Anti-aging guru Dr. Perricone has unfurrowed finances [classic article]

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Dr. Nicholas Perricone seems to be everywhere these days. You see his face in bookstores, magazines, on talk shows and on televised fundraisers, raising millions for public television. Described by Vogue magazine as one of the top four dermatologists in the U.S., Dr. Perricone is a recognized expert on aging.

He’s written two best sellers, “The Perricone Prescription” and “The Wrinkle Cure.” Recently released is his new book, “The Acne Prescription: The Perricone Program for Clear and Healthy Skin at Every Age.” His two one-hour public TV specials based on his books are the top fund-raisers for PBS.

Dr. Perricone holds patents for the treatment of skin and systemic disease, and for the use of topical anti-inflammatories for reversing and preventing damage to the skin. According to the Detroit Free Press, his line of skin care products — sold under the name N.V. Perricone, M.D., Cosmeceuticals — has grown into a $50-million business that attracts celebrity customers such as Julia Roberts and Kim Cattrall. His upscale products, including $85 lotions and $195 nutritional supplements, may be found at Nordstrom and at his Web site.

Bankrate: You switched early on from pediatrics to dermatology. Was part of that decision lifestyle or financially-based?

Dr. Perricone: The decision was based on the advice of my mentor, Dr. Sidney Hurwitz. I dedicated my book to him. He was Professor of Pediatrics and Dermatology at Yale. He was working with younger patients and he told me to get into dermatology.

Bankrate: You’ve served as chief of dermatology for Connecticut’s Veterans’ Hospital and you are a veteran. With so many veterans coming home right now, do they face different skin issues than the rest of the general population?

Dr. Perricone: Yes, for a number of reasons. They’re under constant stress, their skin is easily irritated. They are exposed to toxins. They are subject to vaccinations, experimental vaccinations before they go. Those in a tropical climate are subject to fungus and insect bites.

Bankrate: Is the military equipped to deal with this?

Dr. Perricone: Yes, they have doctors who specialize in tropical dermatology, but the problem is, many times the symptoms don’t show up for a long time.

Bankrate: How did you decide to retail your supplements and skin care products?

Dr. Perricone: I wanted to link supplements with topical application; beauty from within and without. Originally, I wanted to take my life’s research, 20 years worth, to corporations. But there was no corporate interest! They said, “We have a formula, we don’t have to change it.” There was no motivation to change. Fortunately, I was doing a lecture in front of some department store buyers. They asked me to come up with a line. So, now you see the line in Nordstom.

Bankrate: Did you have to undertake any sort of business training or do you have someone who handles that aspect?

Dr. Perricone: I didn’t undertake any training. I have accountants who handle the financial end. But, I do all the research and development myself, also all of the marketing and product development.

Bankrate: With vitamins’ potency and the differing needs of people, why are they available over the counter? Shouldn’t they be sold by prescription only?

Dr. Perricone: No, they are very safe. They are efficacious and more affordable this way. I prefer this system. I may in the future offer stronger supplements by prescription.

Bankrate: Your products are at a higher price point than other products. Do you anticipate any price changes as your line generates more volume?

Dr. Perricone: As it stands, the ingredients in my supplements cost 10 times more than those of other supplements, they are extremely expensive. I may put out a mass market line. The big chain stores, department stores I am working with now expect a certain price point. I may introduce smaller sizes in the future.

Bankrate: One sees many celebrities with too much plastic surgery. Do you think that phenomenon will decrease with the increase of more scientific skin care?

Dr. Perricone: Yeah, I do. Many people are realizing that these procedures don’t look natural.

Bankrate: With the abundance of health and self-help books out there, how did you decide to enter the fray? To what do you attribute your books’ great success?

Dr. Perricone: I think I was the first to link external beauty with internal health. People relate to that.

Bankrate: Do you manage your own money?

Dr. Perricone: Yes.

Bankrate: Do you have investments?

Dr. Perricone: I’m not in the stock market, it’s too risky. I’m very conservative. I like government bonds; not only can you get a good return, but it also helps the country.

Bankrate: What is a splurge for you?

Dr. Perricone: I really like to read. I read by the water, I head to Florida. In Florida, I get exercise and lots of sleep.

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