On December 26, 2008, the FDA approved Latisse™ the first prescription product to increase the length, thickness and darkness of eyelashes. The official FDA indication for Latisse is the treatment of hypotrichosis; the medical term for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes.Latisse is now the third FDA-approved drug for promoting a type of hair growth along with Propecia and Rogaine for male pattern hair loss. Like Propecia and Rogaine,the hair growth benefits of Latisse were discovered as side effects of drugs previously approved for other medical conditions. Rogaine evolved from the drug Minoxidil; a medication used to treat high blood pressure whereas Propecia is a lower dose of a medication called Finasteride used to treat enlargement of theprostate. All of these drugs work in different ways to decrease hair loss and/or stimulate new hair growth.
Latisse was developed by Allergan, Inc. (the makers ofBOTOX®) from the clinical findings of their product Lumigan™, a prescription eye drop which treats the increased intraocular pressure of glaucoma. Prior toits FDA approval as Latisse, many Dermatologists treated patients with Lumiganas an off-label use for eyelash growth.
Bimatoprost,the active ingredient in both Latisse and Lumigan, was first FDA-approved in2001. Bimatoprost is a structural prostaglandin analog, a lipid compound derived from fatty acids designed to bind to prostaglandin (PG) receptors. PG receptors are present in hair,particularly in the dermal papilla and outer root sheath. Although the precisemechanism of action is unknown, PG receptors are thought to be involved in the development and regrowth of the hair follicle by increasing the percent of hairs in, and the duration of, the anagen or growth phase (Allergan, 2008). The long-term safety of bimatoprost for therapeutic use has been recognized by the medical community and well-established based on use in 32 clinical trialsinvolving more than 5,700 glaucoma patients and more than 13 years of clinicaltrial experience.
As with any drug, there can be unwanted side effects with Latisse. The most common adverse events observed in the clinical trials were not serious and cosmetic in nature with eye redness and itching in approximately 4% of patients. Less common side effects may include skin darkening, eye irritation, dry eyes andredness of the eyelids. These side effects are generally reversible with the discontinuation of Latisse. Although not reported in clinical studies and rare,it is possible that Latisse may cause increased brown pigmentation of thecolored part of the eye which may be permanent.
Latisseis applied once daily to the upper eyelashes with a sterile, single-use, disposable applicator supplied with the kit. Latisse users can expect to experience longer,fuller and darker eyelashes in as little as eight weeks, with full results in16 weeks. While using Latisse, eyelashes will continue to grow without shedding as normal. Therefore they will continue to grow longer until they have reached the desired length. Two or 3 maintenance treatments per week are necessary to maintain the desired length. If Latisse is discontinued, eyelashes will eventually return to their previous appearance. Latisse may also stimulate eyebrow growth in some, but not all, patients.
An FDA advisory panel recommended further clinical studies for use of Latisse inpatients who have lost eyelashes due to chemotherapy and the FDA did not approve Latisse for people under 18 or for pregnant or lactating women.
The average cost of Latisse is about $4.00 per day and it is not covered by insurance.