Allergan CEO comes out against aesthetic treatments for teens in debate-sparking blog post

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders says he's looking to start a conversation around how to “appropriately manage and counsel” teens looking for medical aesthetic treatments.

Allergan is targeting some newer, fast-growing markets with its aesthetic drugs portfolio—but the under-18 crowd isn’t one of them.

In a Wednesday blog post, CEO Brent Saunders laid out the reasons he struggles with the idea of using some of his company’s own treatments in minorsand asked others in the field to share their opinions.

As the father of two high-school-age girls, I am sensitive to the societal pressures they faceto look a certain way or meet a certain standard,” Saunders begins. When that world intersects the world of medical aesthetic techthrough the “inappropriate use of medical aesthetic procedures among minorsit is time to speak up,” he added.

RELATED: Allergan's brand recognition, rebates keep aesthetics unit primed for growth: Specialists

With his blog post, Saunders is wading into a debate larger than his own business, addressing the tough-to-achieve markers of beauty that pop stars, actors, models and fashionistas set for young girls and women, consciously or not. The way he sees it, “emotional maturity is critical to the decision-making process involved to fully understand treatment options and their potential implications,” and “many teenagers lack that level of maturity.”

Prettifying injections and treatments generally are used off-label in teens. Allergan's in particular—which include blockbuster toxin Botox and filler Juvederm, aren't FDA-approved for minors, Saunders points out. "To be clear, Allergan’s medical aesthetic products are approved for adults," he writes.

The post, which he titled “Building a Consensus on Medical Aesthetic Treatment for Minors,” comes as interest in aesthetic treatments grows among younger patients. Saunders cites the lip injection trend that’s taken off among teens, and points out that girls are increasingly using soft tissue and hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, too.

“With each passing year, the rates of inappropriate use of aesthetic treatments among this teenage population are likely to increase,” he wrote.

RELATED: Can Allergan's spruced-up aesthetics lineup shake off 'meh' Kybella growth?

Of course, the Dublin drugmaker’s skipper is aware that not everyone shares his opinions. What he’s looking for, he says, is a conversation among manufacturers, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, estheticians, mental health professionals and others. Together they need to address how to “appropriately manage and counsel” teens looking for medical aesthetic treatments. 

Allergan has been exploring new frontiers with its expanding aesthetics lineup. For one, it’s tagged expansion among men as a growth opportunityparticularly with Kybella, a treatment designed to reduce chin fat.

And while Kybella hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so farBernstein analyst Ronny Gal recently described its growth as “meh”its portfolio peers are making up for it.

“Zeltiq and Rhofade look reasonably strong and as Meatloaf says, 'two out of three ain't bad,'” Gal wrote last week in a note to clients.