Is Allergan's Latisse Also a Cure for Baldness?

Last Updated Aug 11, 2009 3:18 PM EDT

Allergan believes it may have a cure for baldness in the form of Latisse/Lumigan, its glaucoma drug-cum-eyelash enhancer. EVP R&D Scott Whitcup told investors on Allergan's Q2 2009 conference call:
We're in the midst of looking at a number of [selections] by Bimatoprost [the chemical name for Latisse and Lumigan] for hair growth on the scalp.

Unlike Lumigan for glaucoma, we don't have the eight years plus of clinical trials data so we're sort of starting from scratch.

It's a little too early to give you the final timeline but we are working as quickly as we can to get a formulation, get the pre-clinical work done and into the clinic and we'll update you as soon as we have more from timeline.
CEO David Pyott reminded investors that this isn't all about money and vanity (although mostly it is):
And we're also doing work on patients who unfortunately have undergone chemotherapy so there's a compassionate part of this story as well.
The statements come as confirmation of internet rumors that have popped up here and here, based mostly on the lay supposition that because both Latisse and Lumigan grow eyelashes, maybe they'll grow other types of hair, too. Latisse's own PI says:
Hair Growth Outside the Treatment Area There is the potential for hair growth to occur in areas where LATISSEâ„¢ solution comes in repeated contact with the skin surface. It is important to apply LATISSEâ„¢ only to the skin of the upper eyelid margin at the base of the eyelashes using the accompanying sterile applicators, and to carefully blot any excess LATISSEâ„¢ from the eyelid margin to avoid it running onto the cheek or other skin areas ...
One need not have seen the movie Duplicity to know that a real cure for baldness would make Allergan the hottest drug company on the planet. Even a mediocre therapy would be a blockbuster -- Merck's Propecia and J&J/McNeil's Rogaine work only in a marginal way at best, and they're both huge. (If they "worked," why are there so many bald guys running around?).

Meanwhile, rumors abound as to whether GlaxoSmithKline might acquire Allergan. Allergan's stock is down 19 percent from the highs of 2007, at about the $55 range. But it's heading up. BNET has expressed doubts about such a combo before but ... if Latisse can even stave off male-pattern hair loss (let alone regrow hair) then it will be worth every penny of debt that GSK takes on to get it.

Top image by Flickr user Mike Burns, CC.

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