NEW YORK — She may just be the best friend Kinerase ever had.

Courteney Cox, who signed with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in March 2005 to be the face of its high-end Kinerase skin care brand, has inked a one-year contract extension with the company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although industry sources estimated that Cox is likely earning at least $1 million per year for the deal.

Along with the new contract is a new ad visual, created by Badger & Partners. Shot by Michael Thompson, with hair by Chris McMillan and makeup by Genevieve, the ad will break in April issues of In Style, Lucky, W and Allure.

Cox also will participate in the development of future Kinerase product extensions, said Wes Wheeler, president, North America and global commercial development for Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Kinerase’s parent. “We have had a wonderful year and a phenomenal relationship with Courteney, and we are very excited to be working with her going forward,” said Wheeler. “She is a true believer in this brand.” In fact, Wheeler said, Cox is very interested in product development. “She gives us input into ingredients and formulations, and we’re talking about doing a nutraceutical line with her,” he said.

While Cox hasn’t necessarily drawn in a different demographic — the brand’s key user is an upper-middle-class woman in the 29- to 50-year-old age range — she certainly has raised awareness among the brand’s target consumers, said Wheeler.

Down the road, Wheeler added, doing a color cosmetics line could well happen. “We want to have a full line with Courteney,” he said. In fact, the Cox-Valeant Pharmaceuticals pairing has been so successful that the company — which also produces drugs for Parkinson’s disease and hepatitis C patients — may expand into celebrity endorsements for certain areas of its prescription drugs, he said.

The actress — a self-proclaimed product junkie who also develops films with her husband, actor David Arquette, through their Coquette Productions — has also alluded to the possibility of a deeper involvement in the beauty field.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals recently added three products to the Kinerase lineup: Kinerase Antioxidant Mist, Under Eye Rescue and Lip Treatment. The original Kinerase product, Kinerase Cream, was launched in 1999. The key ingredient in the products is kinetin, a plant growth factor said to allow the skin to retain more moisture, as well as feel firmer and healthier, said Wheeler.

This story first appeared in the March 3, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The products are currently available in about 2,500 dermatologists’ offices in the U.S. as well as about 175 specialty stores, including Sephora and Nordstrom. The brand’s upscale retail distribution continues to evolve, noted Wheeler. By yearend, Wheeler hopes to be closer to 300 doors. He added that the company is in talks with additional retailers and will expand its reach in both Nordstrom and Sephora as well. When the brand is completely rolled out into its full distribution, noted Wheeler, it will be in about 400 doors total.

The company will launch two new Kinerase products in June. Cream with SPF 30 and Lotion with SPF 30, each $135, are designed to provide both antiaging benefits and broad-spectrum sun protection. Each includes encapsulated pharmaceutical-grade micronized titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and kinetin.

Valeant executives declined to comment on projected sales or advertising spending, but industry sources estimated the new products could do upward of $1 million at retail in their first year on counter.

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