Web Zap*Germs Archive

October 18, 2005

Wide Use of Antibacterial Soaps Examined by FDA

Responding to widespread concern, the US FDA is examining whether soaps, handwashes, bodywashes and cleaners with antibacterial additives should be allowed in products sold for general consumer use. The agency will hold open meetings at the Holiday Inn in Silver Spring, MD on October 20 and 21 to "discuss the benefits and risks of antiseptic products marketed for consumer use...."

The WSJ notes that any decision by the FDA to restrict sales in the US of such products could have a significant impact on product sales.
Manufacturers have introduced 253 antibacterial products in the U.S. so far this year. Last year, there were 322 new products, according to Datamonitor's Productscan Online, a new-products database.
Some doctors have recommended against the widespread use of antibacterial products for years [as has this blog], arguing that they can lead to the emergence of bacteria that resist antibiotics. In 2000, the American Medical Association recommended that the FDA "expedite its regulation" of antibacterial consumer products that have been linked to resistant bacteria.

The FDA's concerns come against a backdrop of heightened awareness about the potential for drug-resistant bacteria. The incidences of deadly bird flu in Asia, for example, have increased anxiety about infectious diseases overall. Earlier this year, the FDA for the first time banned an antibiotic used in chickens and turkeys because of evidence that its use might lead to pathogens that could withstand drugs used to fight human illness.


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