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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Antibacterial soaps under the microscope of the U.S. authorities

Antibacterial soaps under the microscope of the U.S. authorities

U.S. health authorities on Monday urged manufacturers soaps containing antibacterial chemicals to demonstrate that their products used daily by millions of Americans are really effective and harmless to health. 
Under the new proposed by the U.S. Agency for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, manufacturers who fail to meet these demands will change the formula of their antibacterial or labeling in order to stay on the market.

The move comes as part of a wider review of antibacterial agents conducted by the FDA to ensure their effectiveness and safety, says the agency. This decision does not apply sanitizers or other alcohol-based antibacterial use among physicians and hospitals.

The decision of the FDA will be a public comment period of 180 days before entering, if any, effect. It does not lead to the moment a recall of these products. Although consumers view these antibacterial safe and effective to fight against the spread of germs products, there is currently no scientific evidence that they are more effective than regular soaps, says the agency.

Bacterial resistance and hormonal imbalances In addition, studies show that regular and prolonged use of certain agents in antibacterials, such as triclosan in liquid soaps and triclocarban in bar soaps, could lead to bacterial resistance or cause hormonal imbalances.

Triclosan, an antibacterial used for over 40 years in many personal hygiene such as liquid soap, toothpaste and deodorant products is not only a suspected endocrine disruptor, but would alter muscle function.

Toxicologist Isaac Pessah, University of California-Davis studied including its adverse effects on the heart of mice and small fish muscle. "Antibacterial soaps and similar products are very frequently used in every home, in the workplace, at school and in public places, where the risks of infection are relatively low," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director of the Centre for Research and Evaluation of Medicinal Products of the FDA. "Because of this very important exposure to these agents, we believe that their benefit should be clear with respect to all potential risks," she said.

The extensive use of these antibacterial products, the accumulation of scientific information showing some risks as well as concerns raised by doctors and consumer groups have led the FDA to reassess the active chemicals in these products and are now regarded as "generally safe and effective." No cosmetic groups concerned had responded Monday to the FDA decision.

But Senator Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) is is immediately welcomed. "Some chemicals like triclosan are used in a regulatory black hole despite serious concerns about its effects on health, particularly the development of children," he said in a statement.

These same concerns have also been raised in Europe and the Commission opened a public consultation in August 2012 on triclosan. A European scientific committee concluded in a study published in 2009 that above 0.3% concentrations in cosmetics and soaps "are not safe for consumption because of the importance of their use." These experts had been particularly warned against the risk of development of microbial resistance.

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