Research Triangle Park, North Carolina - General Pharmaceuticals Corp. received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to market STIGMATOR, a treatment for turpis, more commonly know as ugliness syndrome.
Turpis afflicts twenty-two million Americans, making it one of the most widely diagnosed medical conditions in the country. Common symptoms of turpis are unattractiveness and unpleasant personality. Sufferers endure a variety of difficulties, including job discrimination, mockery, and social isolation.
"There is a common misconception that ugliness is a purely physical condition," says Bluma Weller MD, professor of Cognitive Pharmacology at Duke University Hospital. "Actually, people with a pleasant personality and a positive outlook are six times more likely to be considered attractive."
In the past, cosmetic surgery was the only option available to turpis sufferers. Unfortunately, cosmetic surgery only treats physical ugliness; people with ugly personalities had limited options. STIGMATOR is the first of a new class of drug that improves appearance in a non-surgical way. The drug works by suppressing the action of a brain chemical called uglitonin, making patients feel better and be more likable.
Consumer advocate Dr. Sydney Pfeiffer of Public Citizen has criticized the FDA for approving the drug too fast. "The drug was pushed through the regulatory process in record time. The administration fast-tracked approval of STIGMATOR as payback for huge drug industry campaign contributions," Pfeiffer says. "Clinical trials didn't show it was any more effective than alcohol in improving people's looks."
In a written response, the FDA refuted these charges, saying "STIGMATOR (bagafacine HCI) is one of the most thoroughly tested drugs in recent history. It has been clinically proven safe and effective, and will benefit millions of patients." The FDA cites two industry-funded studies which show that the drug is safe.
Despite these assurances, industry experts warn about the potential for abuse. They speculate that recreational users may take the drug before social events. "This could lead to some embarrassing situations," says Dr. Weller. "People might be very surprised at what they see the next day." There are also concerns about the long-term use of the drug. Recreational users may become dependent, actually becoming uglier when they're not taking the drug.