Al­ler­gan, the com­pany that brought you Bo­tox, gears up to tackle the dou­ble chin

Al­ler­gan, which gave us Bo­tox, rolls out a drug for droopy jowls “Now we’re al­most a one-stop shop. We own the face”

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - NEWS - Edited by James E. El­lis and Dim­i­tra Kessenides Bloomberg.com

Two decades ago, Al­ler­gan turned the der­ma­tol­ogy world on its head with its wrin­kle-re­duc­ing Bo­tox. Now the com­pany hopes to do the same with Ky­bella, the first in­jectable treat­ment for what doc­tors call “sub­men­tal fat”— what the rest of us think of as the goop in­side dou­ble chins. “It’s a dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy,” says Philippe Schai­son, pres­i­dent of Al­ler­gan’s U.S. med­i­cal busi­ness. “It’s work­ing great, and there’s noth­ing like it.”

Soon af­ter the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved the chin treat­ment in April 2015, Al­ler­gan bought its de­vel­oper, Kythera Bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, for $2.1 bil­lion. Since then it’s trained 1,600 U.S. and Cana­dian doc­tors to ad­min­is­ter the drug. In Septem­ber it will launch a mar­ket­ing blitz in­clud­ing TV spots to woo dou­ble-chin-con­scious con­sumers.

The ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in Ky­bella, de­oxy­cholic acid, is a form of bile that de­stroys fat cells in the di­ges­tive tract. It does the same in the chin. The

treat­ment in­volves 20 to 30 tiny in­jec­tions by a doc­tor, who must avoid the nerves and ma­jor blood ves­sels run­ning un­der the jaw­line. Each ses­sion costs about $1,500, and most pa­tients re­quire two to four, says Dr. Anne Cha­pas, a der­ma­tol­o­gist in New York. Her prac­tice, Union Square Laser Der­ma­tol­ogy, now per­forms about two Ky­bella treat­ments a week and ex­pects to do more with the mar­ket­ing push. “We were ab­so­lutely ex­cited about it,” she says. “We know there’s huge po­ten­tial.”

Ky­bella bol­sters Al­ler­gan’s po­si­tion in aes­thetic treat­ments, an area San­ford C. Bern­stein an­a­lysts fore­cast to grow 10 per­cent a year through 2020. Be­sides wrin­kle-end­ing Bo­tox, with $2 bil­lion in 2015 sales, Al­ler­gan also sells der­mal fillers like Voluma for dra­matic cheek­bones. Schai­son al­ready has a name for its nee­dle-based trio of Bo­tox, der­mal fillers, and Ky­bella: the liq­uid face-lift. “Now we’re al­most a one-stop shop,” he says. “We own the face.”

Schai­son isn’t just on top of the busi­ness push­ing no-cut facelifts; he’s also a client who got his Ky­bella treat­ment last June. “I was not both­ered by my chin, but I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence it,” he says of the 10-minute pro­ce­dure. “I ab­so­lutely loved the re­sults.”

Ky­bella faces few ri­vals. The most pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive in the U.S., li­po­suc­tion, can cost more than $6,000 and re­quires an in­ci­sion, a few days in ban­dages, and oc­ca­sional scar­ring. Un­like Bo­tox, the ef­fect of Ky­bella doesn’t wear off in a few months. That means the rev­enue stream is short, but the drug may have a broader ap­peal than many plas­tic surgery or der­ma­to­logic treat­ments. Al­ler­gan says Ky­bella in tri­als was ef­fec­tive for 80 per­cent of pa­tients.

El­iz­a­beth Kru­to­holow, a drug an­a­lyst at Bloomberg In­tel­li­gence, says Ky­bella could log $500 mil­lion in an­nual sales. Al­ler­gan says men could ac­count for 30 per­cent of pa­tients vs. 10 per­cent of Bo­tox users. That fig­ure may go higher if the com­pany is suc­cess­ful in tests of the drug against an­other en­dur­ing beauty scourge: love han­dles. Kyle Stock

The bot­tom line Al­ler­gan’s Ky­bella drug to treat dou­ble chins could even­tu­ally bring in more than $500 mil­lion an­nu­ally.

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