Athena withdraws its eyelash enhancer

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Athena cosmetics has withdrawn its eyelash enhancing product from
the market in response to the FDA's seizure of similar products
last week, adding to the controversy surrounding the regulation of
cosmeceutical products.

Athena has decided to stop selling Revitalash as it contains bimatoprost, an ingredient used in an FDA-approved drug for glaucoma, and present in a product recently seized by the regulators. The company cites 'possible public concern over bimatoprost' as the reason behind the product withdrawal, whilst simultaneously reassuring customers that the product is completely safe. Last week the FDA ordered a seizure of $2m worth of a similar bimatoprost-containing product, the Age Intervention Eyelash product, produced by Jan Marini Skin Research (JMSR). The FDA's concern over JMSR's product was related to the use of ingredients present in an FDA-approved glaucoma drug, and the claims that the product could be used as a means to increase eyelash growth. These claims place the product out of the category of cosmetics and into the realm of drugs, which under American law need FDA approval before they can be marketed. In fact the Age Intervention Eyelash product has not been marketed or manufactured since September last year, when the FDA placed an embargo on the product. JMSR have since relaunched a new product that doesn't contain the contentious ingredient, and Athena look to be following a similar path. According to the company, it has been planning a reformulation of the product for some time and plans to accelerate the launch of its reformulated Revitalash product to mid-December. The ingredient in question, bimatoprost appears in the glaucoma drug Lumigan, manufactured and marketed by Allergan. It works to lower the fluid pressure inside the eye, a significant risk factor for the disease. The FDA stated that the use of the bimatoprost containing product in conjunction with a bimatoprost treatment for glaucoma, could decrease the drugs efficiency. This could lead to damage to the optic nerve and even blindness for sufferers of the condition. In addition, the FDA stated that the presence of the ingredient in the Age Intervention Eyelash product could also be hazardous to certain people during normal use, citing swelling of the retina, inflammation and reduced vision as possible side effects. The concern over products such as Athena's Revitalash and JMSR's Age Intervention Eyelash enhancer, illustrates the importance of regulation for the growing cosmeceutical sector.

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