The difference between a drug and a cosmetic.
I have written many times about the problems that occur because of the grey area between drugs and medicines (both prescription or over the counter) and cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. In the case of Rapidlash, we see this company taking “heroic” steps to fit into the cosmetic side while trying to avoid a lawsuit by Allergan, the maker of Latisse. Allergan has exclusive rights to bimatoprost, the FDA-approved ingredient behind lash growth. In 2012, the courts found that Lifetech Resources LLC’s NeuLash and RapidLash are drugs because they are intended not as instantly effective cosmetics, but as treatments meant to grow eyelashes over time. This was found to be unfair competition to exclusivity rights held by Allergan. Below, you will see the original ingredient list for Rapidlash (with isopropyl cloprostenate the original drug in question) and the current Rapidlash ingredient list (where they have replaced isopropyl cloprostenate with black sea rod oil) which also has a prostaglandin analogue present.
Original formula ingredient List: Water, Rhizobium Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Biotin, Panthenol, Pantethine, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Allantoin, Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Seed Extract, Sea Water, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Alcohol Denatured (and) Isopropyl Cloprostenate, Octapeptide-2, Copper Tripeptide-1, Glycerin, Glycine Soja (Soybean Oil), Phosphatidylcholine, Polypeptide-23, Phenoxyethylene, Chlorphenesin, Sorbic Acid.
Current formula ingredient List: Water, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glycerin, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, Rhizobium Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Biotin, Panthenol, Pantethine, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Allantoin, Pumpkin Seed Extract, Sea Water, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Octapeptide-2, Copper Tripeptide-1, Sh-Polypeptide-1, Soybean Oil, Black Sea Rod (Plexaura homomalla ) Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Sorbic Acid.
Why this product is wrong for you
Why is this chemical wrong for you? Natural or synthetic, a chemical will do what its chemical structure dictates. It does not matter whether said chemical was made by a coral trying to convince predators that it is not a tasty lunch or synthesized in a lab for cosmetic use. The prostaglandin analogue found in black sea rod was found to be toxic to fish, causing vomiting and in some cases death for the fish tested. In nature, fish quickly learned not to eat the coral. New coral predators come in the shape of skin care companies and without clinical trials, we don’t know what effects this chemical will have on humans.
Why this product is wrong for the corals
Octocorals (gorgonians) are corals that have eight tentacles. Most octocorals secrete a flexible skeleton and the polyps are embedded in the outer layer, the rind. Plexaura homomalla, commonly known as the black sea rod or Caribbean sea whip, is a gorgonian coral that lives in the Caribbean from the Florida Keys to the northern coast of Venezuela. P. homomalla contains the bioactive lipid Prostaglandin A2 15-acetate methyl ester at approximately 3% of total wet weight.
It seems that this coral’s method of defense has backfired. RapidLash has decided that on top of the damage that global warming is inflicting to corals, they will go one step further and harvest black sea rod coral. Why? To circumvent FDA regulations. Even assuming that this extract will promote eyelash growth like the prescription medication it means to replace, it can bypass the regulations that ban prescription medications from cosmetics. It can also bypass Allergan lawyers, although I hope somebody will find a way to curtail this abuse of nature and the law.
-Dr. Hannah Sivak