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Idebenone anti-aging skin cream hits the market

Allergan Inc., the company that makes the Botox treatment for reducing wrinkles, now has a new anti-aging product on the market: Prevage®, a skin cream that contains the antioxidant idebenone. Idebenone has been available as an oral nutritional supplement for several years and has a well-deserved reputation as an energy-booster. Its antioxidant properties have been established by many biochemical studies.

Prevage has taken a long time to reach the market and has cost a lot of money to develop — not because it posed any special safety or technical problems, but because Allergan wanted to sell it as a high-end prescription drug rather than a cosmetic supplement — and this means that the U.S. FDA had to be involved. When the FDA is involved, then hundreds of millions of dollars are also involved. That’s why prescription drugs are so expensive; and it’s why the flow of new drugs into the marketplace has slowed to a trickle, and may soon dry up altogether.

So we now have an anti-aging cream containing idebenone. And we also have a nutritional supplement containing idebenone that costs far less and is available without prescription. If you rub Prevage onto your skin, some of the idebenone migrates through the outer (dead) skin layer into the living skin cells that generate the skin, and there it may indeed rejuvenate the skin. But if you take idebenone as an oral supplement, it goes into the bloodstream and reaches the same skin cells — and any rejuvenation that takes place is a lot less expensive than the rejuvenation produced by a high-class prescription cream. Doesn’t it seem like there’s something odd going on here?

Note: Prevage costs about US$100 per ounce of 1% cream — that’s about US$350 per gram of idebenone. Oral idebenone supplements cost about US$10 per gram of idebenone. This comparison isn’t totally fair, since the bioavailabilities are different, but it indicates the degree to which astronomical drug costs can be blamed on government bureaucrats.

Links to news article about Prevage:

Link to press release about Prevage:

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