Magazine article Drug Topics

New Prescription Product Takes Aim at Facial Hair

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Prescription Product Takes Aim at Facial Hair

Article excerpt

For the female population, there's probably nothing more embarrassing than excess hair just about anywhere. In hopes of removing these cosmetically unappealing strands, women have faithfully plucked, shaved, waxed, burned, electrocuted, and lasered various parts of their bodies. But how about preventing hair from growing in the first place? Well, a newly approved product may do just that. And if your patients ask about it, don't bother directing them to one of the over-the-counter aisles-tell them they need a prescription.

The first Rx product of its kind, Vaniqa (eflornithine HCl) cream 13.9% was recently approved for reduction of unwanted facial growth in women. Marketed by BristolMyers Squibb and Gillette Co., the drug is actually an antineoplastic and antiprotozoal compound that's already approved in oral form for African sleeping sickness. Eflornithine has also been under investigation for various other conditions, including Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, malignancies, and psoriasis.

The agent's unique new indication appears to have originated from observations made during oral use of the drug. Studies in the literature have reported inhibition of an enzyme known as ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) in human skin following oral dosing of eflornithine. This ODC enzyme is believed to be necessary for synthetic functions and cell division. Thus, inhibiting ODC would affect the rate of hair growth.

After evaluating a topical form of eflornithine, researchers found that the preparation did indeed retard the rate of hair growth. During clinical trials, eflornithine cream was shown to be effective in slowing growth of facial hair in 60% of women. "The product does take up to two months to work, and, along with using it, women should continue to use their current method of hair removal," noted investigator Marty E. Sawaya, M.D., Ph.D., dermatologist and adjunct professor, department of biochemistry and molecular biology, University of Miami.

According to product labeling, Van iqa will "improve the condition and the patient's appearance, ' but she will "likely" need to continue with her previous methods of hair removal indefinitely. The product should certainly not be mistaken for a permanent cure for unwanted hair, since studies indicate hair growth tends to approach pretreatment levels once patients stop using it.

Most commonly reported side ef feels were minor skin irritations such as temporary redness, hair bumps, stinging, burning, tingling, acne, or rash. …

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