$160 Mascara Seized By FDA Because It Can Cause Blindness

Earlier today, U.S. marshals seized over 12,000 tubes—about $2 million dollars worth—of Age Intervention Eyelash, sold by Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. The FDA considers the product “adulterated” and potentially dangerous, and has urged “consumers, dermatologists and beauticians” who have already bought the $160 product to stop using it. So what’s the big deal? According to this lawsuit site, it contains bimatoprost, “an active ingredient in an FDA approved drug to treat elevated intraocular pressure.” Oops.

Wikipedia says bimatoprost is used to treat glaucoma and ocular hypertension and goes by the brand name Lumigan in the U.S. It counts the following among its side effects:

  • May permanently darken eyelashes;
  • May eventually cause permanent darkening of the iris to brown (heterochromia).
  • May cause a temporary burning sensation during use.
  • May cause thickening of the eyelashes.

Seriously: $160. a. tube. It should treat some medical condition for that price.

“Potentially harmful cosmetic eye product seized” [Reuters]

Wikipedia entry for bimatoprost
crazy lawsuit site
(Photo: Steve Isaacs)


Edit Your Comment

  1. humphrmi says:

    I bet it’s not $160 a tube when prescribed, purchased, and used for what it’s intended to treat.

  2. Shred says:

    Dude, people are crazy for this stuff. I was following it a while back. Ladies love it cause it really works.

  3. Sidecutter says:

    I have never been able to figure out why women are so completely obsessed with emphasizing their eyelashes. I have NEVER, NEVER noticed the *Hairs growing from the edge of a woman’s eyelid*, much less thought to *judge them* when I look at them, and neither have any other guys I’ve ever known.

  4. @Sidecutter: True, and what’s funny is the eyelashes on guys are often thick and/or long. (That sounds dirtier than I mean it.) Countless times, I’ve seen or heard women moon over a guy’s eyelashes. It’s like a weird cosmic joke.

  5. K-Bo says:

    @Sidecutter: I’m not so much obsessed with making my eyelashes thicker or darker, but for some reason, when I wear mascara everyone complements my blue eyes, when I don’t, they don’t notice. So although I know what you are talking about when you say you have never noticed the hair growing from the eyelids, I still won’t leave the house without mascara.

  6. azntg says:

    @K-Bo: So… that’s what mascara is used for! You learn something new every day.

    Funny how some beauty products happen to have some really undesirable/unintended side effect (for a really outdated example: arsenic)

  7. iamme99 says:

    And just in case you were wondering, you can even have eyelash transplants done these days. Do a search.

    Too many woman put altogether too much mascara on and it looks way ugly (even though they think they look better).

  8. crazylady says:

    @humphrmi: Actually, I might say you’re wrong. I dunno how much lumigan is in the mascara, but the 7.5ml bottle is about the same price as a tube of the blinding mascara. :p

    Lumigan and all the glaucoma/ocular hypertension-treating drops out there are EXPENSIVE. My dad went through a few bottles of Alphagan and Lumigan post-eye surgeries to minimize complications from possible post-surgery/drug related hypertension, and every time I look at how much it would cost without insurance it almost makes me want to cry.

  9. vanillabean says:

    I wonder how many products have unlabeled prescription drugs in them. My neighbor is into natural crap and was touting red yeast rice pills for cholesterol and it turns out they’re just statin.

    The choice of Dave Navarro photo for this story is hilarious!

  10. synergy says:

    Trivia: testosterone makes the lashes darker, longer, and thicker. Just like all the other hair on the body… ;)

  11. @Sidecutter: It’s not really the hairs themselves, it’s more about how they frame and emphasize the eyes. Mascara done well makes the eyes look larger and brighter.

  12. misslisa says:

    I was a user of this product – any other users out there? I bought a tube on Ebay for $100 & it lasted nearly a year because I only used it 2x/wk. It made my lashes grow like weeds in a yard, but there was discomfort and redness associated with it. I mean, we women suffer for beauty, right – high heels, pierced ears, etc. But now I shudder to think of the side effects. Anyway, now that it’s been seized, I’ll bet the price on Ebay will go up to $300/tube.

  13. EvilTapioca says:

    So how did the Lumigan end up in the mascara? I mean are they made in the same factory or something because if so then shouldn’t the lumigan be checked too? This bothers me because a very close friend of mine has glaucoma and uses lumigan.

  14. Bunklung says:

    The picture of Dave Navarro is SO fitting. Not only is he an ass, but I bet he uses $160/tube mascara.

  15. kingedwin says:

    My mom was put on Lumigan a while back for her eye pressure, and it made her lashes grow like crazy. She’s going to love hearing about this.

  16. VoxPopuli says:

    @Bunklung: Agreed. I blame Dave Navarro for all of humanity’s problems, lash related and otherwise.

    Also, anyone willing to pay $160 for a tube of mascara is nuts. If I were a guy and a girl I was dating did that, I think I would actually see it as a warning sign to get out while I could.

  17. aquanetta says:

    This stuff is not actually mascara, it’s a clear gel that you apply to your lashline. I use a competitor’s product and it does work. My results are noticeable, but a friend had to trim her eyelashes because they were so long that they were itching her face.

    I mean, I don’t know what’s the big deal. That’s how they discovered Viagara, it was originally a hypertension medication and now it’s being marketed for the side-effect.

  18. themediatrix says:

    I’m thrilled the FDA has bothered to do something about this. I’m all for great looking eyelashes but if a product contains any prescription drug as an ingredient (one that causes blindness as a side-effect!!) it should be on the label and I should be able to make an informed decision about whether to make the trade-off (blindness, um, no).

    There are tons of products out there that are banned in other countries because the ingredients are dangerous, but the FDA hasn’t bothered to test them. For example, in Japan and in Europe, Crest White Strips are outlawed, along with a bunch of other U.S. made Crest and Colgate products. Those countries are better at protecting the consumer from harmful ingredients in toiletries and cosmetics than our thoroughly ineffective FDA, which is understaffed and subject to pressure from industry lobbying groups.

  19. msgotrox says:

    Thank goodness the FDA is there to protect rich old bags from $160/tube eyelash enhancement goo. What the hell else are they doing for the other 99% of us?

  20. Her Grace says:

    @aquanetta: Because it causes blindness?

  21. aquanetta says:

    @Her Grace:

    In the online references to the FDA seizure of the eyelash conditioner, it would cause blindness in people already on bimatoprost for treating intraocular pressure because the additional dose may decrease the drug’s effectiveness, so the uncontrolled intraocular pressure would lead to blindness.

    I’m inferring from the published information that for people who are not suffering from intraocular pressure and not on bitmatoprost, shouldn’t need to be worried about decreasing the drug’s effectiveness and therefore probably wouldn’t go blind from using this unless there was some other preexisting condition.

  22. frohotch says:

    I was on Lumigan for several years, and while it did make my eye lashes very long and very dark (I only used the drops in one eye, so I would only put mascara on the other eye–to balance it out) it also can make the skin around the eye darker. After about 5-6 years on the drops, told my opthalmologist I wouldn’t use it any more because I was getting a permanent black eye. I’d be very careful about using it, since they still can’t separate out it’s positive and negative effects. Also, it is very controversial to use in pregnant women.

  23. crazylady says:

    @EvilTapioca: I think the bigger point is that a prescription drug ended up in the mascara on purpose (cause the eyelashes thing is one of the side effects). I assume if you were prescribed Lumigan there was a good reason as to why, that the benefits of Lumigan would outweigh the negatives (i.e. the side effects), and that you’d be monitored for any changes by the appropriate healthcare professionals. Meanwhile, if you got this mascara and you used Lumigan as well, it would not be good, and well, if you were just using this mascara, the possible side effects may be dangerous compared to the result.