FDA: So Long, Antibacterial Soaps

Agency says antibacterial ingredients haven't been proven to be effective, safe
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2016 1:48 PM CDT
FDA: So Long, Antibacterial Soaps
Break out the Ivory.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Companies that sell over-the-counter antibacterial soaps will have a year to clean up their acts—namely, to remove those products from shelves and stop marketing them, or take certain ingredients out of their products that the FDA now says are essentially ineffective, NBC News reports. Products containing 19 active ingredients—including triclosan (typically used in liquid soaps) and triclocarban (added to bar soaps)—can't be marketed after Sept. 6, 2017, according to the new ruling, as they haven't been proven by manufacturers to be any better than regular soap and water at keeping illnesses and infections at bay. "In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says, per an FDA release.

The affected ingredients are all designed to be used with water and then rinsed off—meaning hand sanitizers and wipes are still good to go for now, as are products used in health care settings. The FDA had been looking into antibacterials hard-core since at least December 2013, when it announced that consumer groups and scientific studies had raised major red flags about the ingredients' effectiveness and safety, with some being linked to hormonal issues and bacterial resistance. But concerns about triclosan have dated back to the late '70s, and even the CDC says soap doesn't need an antibacterial boost, NBC notes. Three of the ingredients—benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol (PCMX)—get an extra year's buffer beyond the 2017 deadline "to allow for the development and submission of new safety and effectiveness data for these ingredients," the release states. (You were probably using antibacterial soaps all wrong anyway.)

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