Over-the-counter wrinkle cream works as well as prescription

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The New Scientist reports that the over-the-counter anti-wrinkle cream regimen Olay Pro-X is just as successful at reducing signs of aging as the leading prescription medication tretinoin, according to a study from Proctor & Gamble, the manufacturer of Olay products. The study, which was designed with the help of a University of Manchester researcher and published in the British Journal of Dermatology, included 200 women who took either the prescription medication (which contains retinoic acid) or used the cream regimen for a period of eight weeks. At the end of the two months, women using the cream showed greater wrinkle reduction and reported less skin irritation than those taking the prescription.

So, should a an over-the-counter makeup product that works as well as a prescription be regulated and sold as a medication? In the U.S., where the Olay products studied are already on sale and have been classified as cosmetics, that’s not likely. The same likely holds for the U.K., so long as none of the ingredients are prescription-only, the product needn’t be. But, in Europe, if Procter & Gamble hoped to introduce the product, they could face some hurdles. As Richard Weller, a dermatologist from the University of Edinburgh who applauded the use of “hard data” to prove the product’s merits, told the New Scientist: “They are saying something is as good as retinoic acid, which is a prescription drug.”

What do you think? Should over-the-counter products that work as well as prescription medications be moved behind the counter?

Read the full New Scientist story here.