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FDA Bans Some Antibacterial Soap Products


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By Natalie Grover


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned some over-the-counter antibacterial hand and body wash products, saying they are no more effective than soap and water and could cause long-term harm.


The move affects 2,100 products, or roughly 40 percent of the over-the-counter antibacterial soap market, Dr. Theresa Michele, director of the FDA’s division of nonprescription drug products, told reporters on a conference call.


The ruling does not affect alcohol-based hand sanitizers or antibacterial products used in hospitals and clinics.


The agency said it is banning products that contain any one of 19 ingredients that have not been proven safe.


Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble Co and Colgate-Palmolive Co have said they have either reformulated or are reformulating their products to delete the most common of the 19 ingredients, including triclosan and triclocarban.


FDA spokeswoman Andrea Fischer and Brian Sansoni, of the American Cleaning Institute, which represents multiple cleaning products companies, were unable to identify the products most affected by Friday’s ruling.


The FDA had proposed banning the ingredients in 2013 unless companies could prove they were safe and effective, but was unsatisfied with the data. The ACI, whose members include Dial Corp., a unit of Germany’s Henkel, insists the products are effective.


“Clearly this is an industry that needed a good, swift kick in the triclosan. It took far too long,” said Alex Formuzis, of Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental research organization.


Thomas DiPiazza, a spokesman for Colgate-Palmolive, said none of the company’s products in the continental United States are affected, although a “small quantity of our bar soap in Puerto Rico, where FDA rules also apply, is being reformulated.”


Procter & Gamble spokeswoman Tressi Rose said it will replace “a few” products well in advance of the FDA’s deadline for removing or reformulating the products a year from now.


The regulator also deferred by a year a ruling on three additional ingredients used in consumer wash products – benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) – to allow for the submission of new safety and effectiveness data for those ingredients.


Consumer antibacterial washes containing those specific ingredients may be sold during this time, the FDA said.


Manufacturers are conducting research to fill data gaps identified by the FDA, Sansoni said.




Any thoughts on this?

When I first saw this headline, I thought the removal of the many so-called antibacterial products on the market was going to encompass a much larger portion of the products that flood the shelves. After reading this article I'm not so convinced that is the case.

And how much does this affect the resistance of bacteria anyway? I would think that the practice of administering "precautionary IV antibiotics" in the hospital would be the bigger culprit in building bacterial resistance.

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i remember studying about this in school....antibacterials kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria, so its a double edged sword....i also agree that precautionary antibiotics are a bigger culprit in building resistance as well as patients not finishing their antibiotics....super bugs are a very scary thing.

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On a more serious note though, this is another non-surprising revelation. There are certain tried and true methods for things, such as eat right and exercise, and washing with soap and water is another basic (you reading this hipsters?). The companies that make these products know this full well but there is money to be made off of people's fears of germs, infections, bacteria, etc., more so after things like HIV, Bird Flu,etc. If you read the labels on many of these products you'll see in the fine print some of their limitations, although none of them will print that their product is no more effective than soap and water. Some hand sanitizers fit this bill too although I have to admit that after doing something like riding the subway in NYC I might want to use some given the restricted access to a bathroom.

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