Health Highlights: Dec. 27, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008; 12:00 AM

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

First Drug for Longer, Darker Lashes Unveiled

Allergan Inc., the company that makes Botox, announced on Friday that it has staked its claim in the eyelash enhancement market.

In a news release, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said it had received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing to market Latisse, the first prescription medication that makes lashes grow longer, thicker and darker. Once it reaches the market in March, annual sales of Latisse are expected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million.

A daily treatment, Latisse is applied to the base of the upper eyelid and the full effect is seen in 16 weeks. Once treatment is stopped, lashes will slowly return to normal, the company said in the release. The primary ingredient in Latisse, bimatoprost, is a prostaglandin analog that is present in hair and is thought to help in the development and regrowth of hair follicles. The company did warn that the medication should not be applied to the lower eyelid, and that any other part of the body that was exposed to Latisse might show hair growth. Allergan also noted that the eyelashes on each lid might not grow the exact same way.

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FDA to Re-Examine Favorable Ruling on Safety of Plastic Container Additive

It's not quite the phrase from Saturday Night Live's Emily Latella -- "Never mind!" -- but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided to reconsider its ruling on the safety of a chemical found in plastic baby bottles and food and drink containers.

The New York Times reports that there was so much criticism of its August decision that the amount of bisphenol-A (BPA) in containers and baby bottles did not pose a health risk that the FDA has decided to re-examine its ruling.

BPA is widely used to produce polycarbonate, a hard plastic. According to the Times, opposition to the FDA's decision has been overwhelming. The department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program has warned about BPA's safety, saying that research has shown an adverse effect on the brain, behavior and the prostate gland in infants. A September article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that adults with high urine levels of BPA were more prone to liver disease and diabetes, the Times reports.

In fact, the newspaper reports, more than 200 animal studies have been published the warn of BPA's possible negative effects on humans. Canada has already added the chemical to its toxic substances list.

No timetable has been given as to how the FDA will proceed with its BPA re-examination.


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