Antibacterial Soaps Could Be Banned by FDA

Antibacterial Soaps Could Be Banned by FDA

Antibacterial soaps could be banned by the FDA unless the manufacturers can prove that the are safe.  The proposed rule would require all antibacterial soap manufacturers to show proof that they are as effective in cleaning as regular soap and water for preventing infections.

It is estimated at 75 percent of the antibacterial soaps, lotions, and body washes that are sold in the United States contain the germ killer, triclosan.  The reality is that the FDA has no clue as to whether or not the ingredient works.  Worse, there may be evidence that triclosan poses numerous health risks.

Sandra Kweder, a deputy director at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says that they want companies to test their products on consumers.  They need to get a sense of whether or not antibacterial soaps are as effective in cleaning as plain old soap and water.  Kweder claims that many consumers purchase antibacterial soaps thinking that they are protecting their families from infection and illness but there is no real evidence to support that claim.

In order to find out if the claims are true, the FDA has proposed a new rule that will require manufacturers of antibacterial soaps to prove that their products are safe and effective.  If they are unable to prove their claims then they will be forced to reformulate their products to avoid having them banned.

One of the main faults here is in the advertising.  The ads show people passing along germs and viral illnesses.  The claim is that if you use their antibacterial soaps and lotions, even some tissues, that you will stave off infections.  The reality is that antibacterial soaps, or soaps and lotions that have antibacterial agents in them, have no effect on viruses.   The false claims made by the manufacturers are what keep consumers buying the products over and over again.  People are paying more for antibacterial soaps than they are for regular soaps. And it turns out they may be doing more harm than good.

Frank Netter, the director of global public health at Quinnipiac University, claims that simple hand washing with warm water and regular soap is one of the most effective ways to limit your risk of infections.  It’s not the product that you use, it’s the frequency of which you wash your hands after coughing, preparing food, or using the bathroom.

Antibacterial soaps could be banned by the FDA unless they can prove their worth.  At the center of the latest controversy is the germ killer, triclosan.  New evidence is suggesting that there may be a link between overexposure to triclosan and allergies.  There is really no way to justify using an ingredient such as triclosan when regular soap and water or even hand sanitizers that contain alcohol are so widely available.  Studies also suggest that triclosan has only shown to be useful and effective as an ingredient in toothpaste to ward off gingivitis.

One of the main concerns is that since antibacterial soaps are so commonly used now that consumers are growing resistant to antibiotics. The FDA has been working on the proposed ban of antibacterial soaps since 2005.  The ban would not include antibacterial hand sanitizers.

Antibacterial soaps could be banned by the FDA unless the manufacturers can prove their effectiveness.  The proposed rule would give antibacterial soap manufacturers until December of 2014 to submit their studies and findings.  The goal of the FDA is to have a ruling by September 2016.

By Mary Kay Love

Boston Globe
San Francisco Gate
USA Today

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