Dec. 26, 2008 -- The FDA has approved Latisse, the first drug to promote eyelash growth, according to Allergan, the company that makes Latisse.
Latisse, which will be available by prescription starting in the first quarter of 2009, contains the active ingredient of the glaucoma drug Lumigan, which is also made by Allergan.
Eyelash growth is a known side effect of Lumigan. But Lumigan and Latisse are used differently. Lumigan is an eyedrop, and Latisse gets dabbed along the lash line on the upper eyelids to promote longer, thicker, darker lashes.
Allergan states that "Latisse users can expect to experience longer, fuller, and darker eyelashes in as little as eight weeks, with full results in 16 weeks." If Latisse is stopped, eyelashes will gradually return to their previous appearance as new eyelashes grow in.
Allergan also notes that Latisse may cause darkening of the eyelid skin, which may be reversible, and it "may also cause increased brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye, which is likely to be permanent."
Latisse may also promote hair growth in other skin areas that it frequently touches, so Allergan recommends blotting it off any skin other than the upper eyelid's lash line to prevent that side effect.
According to Allergan, Latisse was well-tolerated in its clinical trials, with the most common side effects being eye redness, itchy eyes, and skin hyperpigmentation.
Earlier this month, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the FDA approve Latisse and also recommended further studies in certain groups of patients, such as young patients and people who lost their eyelashes to chemotherapy.