May 28, 2024

Is the commitment of dermatology to medicine only skin-deep?

To the disgust of some dermatologists, their specialty is in danger of becoming a branch of beauty therapy, according to a report in Business Week. A number of cosmetic companies are marketing cosmeceuticals” like Botox which blur the line between make-up and medicine. The market for such products is worth more than US$6 billion a year in the US. The sales of Botox alone were $564 million last year. Of course, some dermatologists are happy to promote beauty treatments. They open their own spas, lend their names to product lines and write books abut methods to give skin a youthful tone.

However, pressure to supply beauty products and services is decreasing the time available for doctors to treat genuine skin problems. The average waiting time to see a dermatologist in major US cities is now 24.3 days — the longest amongst high-demand medical specialities. As well, funding from universities and industry is being shunted into cosmetics, complains Dr Eileen Ringel, a Maine dermatologist who serves on the Food & Drug Administration’s advisory committee for dermatology.