19 chem­i­cals in an­tibac­te­rial soaps banned; no proof they work

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Matthew Perrone

WASH­ING­TON — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment Fri­day banned over a dozen chem­i­cals long used in an­tibac­te­rial soaps, say­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers failed to show they are safe and kill germs.

“We have no sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that they are any bet­ter than plain soap and wa­ter,” Dr. Janet Wood­cock, the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s drug cen­ter di­rec­tor, said in a state­ment.

Fri­day’s de­ci­sion pri­mar- ily tar­gets two once-ubiq­ui­tous in­gre­di­ents — tri­closan and tri­clo­car­ban — that some lim­ited re­search in an­i­mals sug­gests can in­ter­fere with hor­mone lev­els and spur drug-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria.

The 19 banned chem­i­cals have long been un­der scru­tiny, and a clean­ing in­dus­try spokesman said most com­pa­nies have al­ready re­moved them from their soaps and washes.

The FDA said it will al­low com­pa­nies more time to pro­vide data on three ad­di­tional chem­i­cals, which are used in most an­tibac­te­rial soaps sold to­day.

The agency told man­u­fac­tur­ers nearly three years ago that they must show their prod­ucts are safe and ef­fec­tive. Reg­u­la­tors said Fri­day that they ei­ther did not re­ceive any data from in­dus­try sup­port­ing a chem­i­cal’s use or the data did not meet fed­eral stan­dards for prov­ing safety and ef­fec­tive­ness.

The FDA ban comes over 40 years af­ter Congress asked it to eval­u­ate tri­closan and dozens of other an­ti­sep­tic in­gre­di­ents. Ul­ti­mately, the gov­ern­ment agreed to pub­lish its find­ings only af­ter a three-year le­gal bat­tle with an en­vi­ron­men­tal group, the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, which ac­cused the FDA of de­lay­ing a de­ci­sion on tri­closan’s safety.

The Amer­i­can Clean­ing In­sti­tute, a clean­ing chem­i­cal as­so­ci­a­tion, dis­puted the FDA’s find­ings, say­ing in a state­ment that “the FDA al­ready has in its hands data that show the safety and ef­fec­tive­ness of an­tibac­te­rial soaps.”

The group’s spokesman said com­pa­nies are plan­ning to sub­mit data on three chem­i­cals cur­rently used by in­dus­try: ben­za­lko­nium chlo­ride, ben­zetho­nium chlo­ride and chlorox­ylenol. The FDA de­layed mak­ing a de­ci­sion on those chem­i­cals for one year.

GETTY-AFP 2009

The FDA’s drug cen­ter di­rec­tor said there is no ev­i­dence that the banned chem­i­cals “are any bet­ter than plain soap and wa­ter” at killing germs.

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