FDA seeks tougher rules on antibacterial soaps
WASHINGTON — The federal government said on Monday it has no evidence that antibacterial chemicals used in liquid soaps and washes help prevent the spread of germs, and it is reviewing research suggesting they may pose health risks.
Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration said they are revisiting the safety of chemicals such as triclosan in light of recent studies suggesting the substances can interfere with hormone levels and spur drug-resistant bacteria.
The government's preliminary ruling lends new support to outside researchers who have long argued that the chemicals are, at best, ineffective and at worst, a threat to public health.
Under a proposed rule released on Monday, the agency will require manufacturers to prove that antibacterial soaps and body washes are safe and more effective than plain soap and water. Products that are not shown to be safe and effective by late 2016 would have to be reformulated, relabeled or pulled.
“I suspect there are a lot of consumers who assume that by using an antibacterial soap product they are protecting themselves from illness, protecting their families,” said Sandra Kweder, deputy director in FDA's drug center. “But we don't have any evidence that that is really the case over simple soap and water.”
A spokesman for the cleaning product industry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The FDA ruling does not apply to hand sanitizers, most of which use alcohol rather than antibacterial chemicals.
The agency will accept data from companies and researchers for one year before beginning to finalize the rule.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.