NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Allergan blazed a trail when its wrinkle fighting treatment Botox opened up the facial aesthetics market. Now Kythera (KYTH) is attempting to follow that path with its double chin drug Kybella.
"In the long term we hope it is a lot like Botox because we think there are a lot of potential uses for this product and we see a huge patient demand for it," says Keith Leonard, CEO of Kythera.
Demand for Kythera's stock has also been high as the market anticipates the second half rollout of Kybella. Shares of the Westlake Village, CA-based biotech company are up nearly 40% in 2015. Kybella is Kythera's lead product, which it is billing as the only FDA-approved injectable drug for improvement in the appearance of "moderate to severe convexity or fullness associated with submental fat," otherwise known as a double chin, in adults.
Leonard's launch team is full of veterans from Allergan, which was purchased for $66 billion by Actavis (ACT) last year, and Amgen (AMGN), where he served as general manager of Europe. He says the pair are "logical sources" of talent since they are both located in Southern California and are well known in the growing facial aesthetics business.
Nevertheless, while demand for both Kybella and Kythera's stock are running hot, Leonard very much wants a cool, measured launch this summer to ensure long-term success.
"We are going to do a controlled launch where we train physicians, predominantly plastic surgeons and dermatologists before they are allowed to purchase Kybella," says Leonard. "We want to make sure physician and patient experiences are the best right up front. That includes things like appropriate patient selection, treatment technique and patient management."
Outside of Kybella, Leonard says the company's next big face-saving (literally) treatment is Kythera-105, a male pattern baldness drug scheduled to be in clinics at the end of this year.
"It is really the most interesting and elegant science that has happened to hair biology in the last 30 years," says Leonard. "We think we've got a great oral drug that could prevent the progression of male pattern baldness and we know that affects men's confidence level."
Leonard is so confident enough in Kythera's future that he plans to go it alone with Kybella's rollout in the U.S., opting not to secure the help of a larger, more established partner. Outside the U.S., however, Leonard says he is not averse to teaming up due to the uniqueness of different territories.
As far as selling the entire company in this hyped-up biotech market even before his double-chin drug even hits the shelves, Leonard is not scratching his own chin considering offers at this point.
"We realize it is a hot M&A market out there," says Leonard. "But we've got our heads down and are entirely focused on launching this product."