Is a glaucoma medicine the cure for baldness?

I’m pretty sure my few remaining hair follicles are holding on for dear life, so I’ll admit this headline would catch my attention.   And although there is no “cure” for thinning hair or baldness, one company is looking to a derivative of a particular glaucoma medicine as a way to stimulate the regrowth of hair on the scalp.

The glaucoma medicine, Lumigan, belongs to a class of eye drops called prostaglandin analogs.   When we prescribed this medication to glaucoma patients, we noticed the unusual side effect of significant eyelash growth.   Not only did eyelashes grow more numerous, but they also became thicker and longer.    The company that makes Lumigan, very brilliantly, repackaged the medicine as Latisse and it was given FDA approval for the growth of eyelashes.    And it works very well in most patients.

Now, the same company, Allergan, is investigating whether this medication, when applied to the scalp, will cause hair growth.    In fact, the medication has already completed Phase II trials and researchers indicate the medication does in fact stimulate hair growth in follicles derived from human scalp tissue.

There is still a lot of testing and regulatory hurdles to be cleared before this medication ever makes it to your local pharmacy, but it truly has been interesting to watch this medicine transition from treating glaucoma to increasing eyelashes to possibly now stimulating hair growth on the scalp.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments or questions. Give us a shout over on Facebook or on Google+. And, remember, you can now request your annual eye exam appointment at our office by clicking here.

Dr. Beach.