The Health Sciences Institute is intended to provide cutting-edge health information.
Nothing on this site should be interpreted as personal medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before changing anything related to your healthcare.

Don't be fooled by those innocent-looking ads for this risky 'red' med

If you’ve seen the online ads for this product that say “Red is Wrong,” you might be deceived into thinking it’s just an innocent beauty cream.

But don’t be fooled. This is a drug, and a powerful one at that. Just as powerful as any pill you would swallow. And the side effects can be just as bad.

And Nestle — the giant food company that is now in control of this risky Rx is pulling out all the stops in advertising it, acting like it’s just another one of its food products.

So don’t let these cutesy ads, beauty bloggers, contests or any other slick promotions lure you into trying it.

Because it’s just not worth the risk to your health — and your face.

Last year the FDA approved Mirvaso. It’s a prescription cream that you apply on your face to treat rosacea.

Rosacea is a very common skin disease that can cause parts of your face, like your nose and cheeks, to become red. Some people can get facial flushing, and others small bumps or pimples.

But Mirvaso wasn’t very popular at first. It did take away facial redness — for a while, anyway. But that came with a big price tag.

After using the cream, people started getting “horrific rebound” reactions. Facial redness that was worse than ever before. And burning — terrible burning, like a really bad sunburn.

One user wrote that she used “a very small amount” for only three days. Now the “rebound is affecting my whole face” including parts that were never red before. Another user said she is “still paying the price” for using this “dangerous, dangerous ingredient.”

That ingredient in Mirvaso is a drug called brimonidine. And before Mirvaso came along it was used in eye drops to treat glaucoma. So it’s a very powerful drug. So powerful that one of Mirvaso’s side effects is severe low blood pressure.

And that’s not the only side effect with Mirvaso.

Its label says that it should be used “with caution” if someone has heart disease, poor blood flow in the heart or brain and certain immune-system diseases. And it can be deadly if ingested, especially for children.

As I said, Mirvaso didn’t seem to sell very well. But now, it’s “under new management.”

The drug company that took Mirvaso to market, Galderma Laboratories, was taken over in February by Nestle. The food giant paid almost $4 billion for it, saying it was anxious to get into the skin-care business.

And Nestle is going to town marketing this dangerous product — almost as if it were a chocolate bar or instant coffee, and not a risky Rx.

First, there are the flashing internet banner ads saying “REDISWRONG.COM.” (As if people with rosacea aren’t self-conscious enough!)

Then the website says “It’s time to right the wrong!” And shows a red turtle and red-spotted Dalmatian.

But that’s not all.

Nestle is running a contest promoting Mirvaso called “Break up with your makeup” where you can enter to win a trip to the Emmy awards while you learn more about the cream. AND it also is “sponsoring” beauty bloggers to write ads for it disguised as helpful tips.

One gives skincare advice and then sneaks in that the “real trick” is to try Mirvaso to see results “quickly” so you can look great for a night out.

Not only is this ad campaign devious — it may not even be legal! There are very specific rules that must be followed when advertising prescription drugs. Especially ones that can cause a dangerous drop in your blood pressure, make your face hot and flushed, and is unsafe for people with any kind of heart or circulatory disease!

And it doesn’t matter if they’re pills or creams.

Oh, and remember the web page with the red turtle on it? It also features a big notice at the bottom saying “no animals were harmed” in this ad campaign.

But I doubt anyone will be able to say that about all the innocent people who get duped by those ads and that contest into trying Mirvaso.


“It’s time to break up with your makeup + enter to win a trip to the Emmy’s” Sarah Scoop, June 9, 2014,

“Nestle’s Galderma skin-care buy shows health challenge” Matthew Boyle, February 12, 2014, Bloomberg,