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New skin-care science and expanding international trade demand a category between drugs and cosmetics
Nearly 20 years ago, I introduced the term cosmeceuticals at a meeting of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists. When I did so, I thought this neologism was both timely and useful, since it would reconcile archaic legal statutes with modem science. I anticipated immediate endorsement of a concept whose time had come. Instead, the response was immediate disapproval and denouncement. My colleagues in industry branded me a troublemaker, unfaithful to those who had supported my research.
Since then, the cosmeceutical concept has generated a significant amount of controversy, and the term has acquired political, economic and legal connotations that have further obscured the intended purpose of the idea.
In any case, the term has gained the merit of having provoked many lively debates that may, in the end, strengthen our understanding of the science of cosmetics. I wish to emphasize that I am an investigative dermatologist who appreciates the tremendous technical strides made by the cosmetic industry in recent times.
"Cosmeceutical" Is Here To Stay
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the use of the term cosmeceutical, it has permanently entered the vocabulary of skin-care science. For some, the term has been transformed into a marketing tool, touting the benefits of skin-care products. Others see it as a provocation for unwanted, costly regulatory actions. The most benign view is that the category is superfluous and has no raison d'etre.
Popular interest: Cosmeceuticals seem to have a certain semantic resonance, as witnessed by similar-sounding neologisms. Consider, for example, neutraceuticals (foods with health benefits) and neoceuticals (OTC drugs with cosmetic effects).
Interest in cosmeceuticals has rushed forward at an impressive pace. Seminars entitled "Cosmeceuticals" are being staged annually. These forums are well-attended by diverse groups -- such as regulators, basic scientists, physicians, manufacturers, publishers, merchandizers, lawyers, toxicologists, pharmacologists, and industry watchers -- having different backgrounds and interests. Papers and books have been written, covering every aspect of the subject; these provide a rich source of information.
Marketing interest: Cosmeceuticals are a hot topic on the international scene, too. The literature has expanded rapidly, presenting a great variety of views dictated by special interests. A number of forces have converged to account for this surge of interest.
It would seem that some merchandizers have realized the potential for increasing the sale of products that go well beyond the traditional view of cosmetics for merely decorative or camoflage purposes. Skin-care products can now be viewed as active: They do something useful and beneficial. They contain bioactives that, though not medicinal, are endowed with functional and measureable attributes. …