More news today out of the Food and Drug Administration — so while I’m still writing my follow-up to last week’s news on growth promoters, I want to toss this up first. The latest: The FDA has announced that it is formally reconsidering “antibacterial” soaps and other personal-care products, charging that the antibacterial ingredients confer no benefit over regular soap and water while carrying extra risks.
In a draft rule that will be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the agency calls for manufacturers of consumer antibacterial products to begin providing data that shows the ingredients are both safe for daily use, and also more effective than plain soap and water. Deep in the 137-page rule, it also raises the issue that’s most interesting to me: whether the routine use of these products causes bacteria to develop resistance against the active ingredients, and against antibiotics as an unintended side effect.
Antibacterial products are a vast market; according to the FDA there are more than 2,000 currently for sale to consumers. (NB: This rule does not cover antibacterial hand-sanitizers; neither does it include the kind of washes and wipes used in healthcare.) The announcement today opens a 6-month comment period that ends next June. It will be interesting to see where this goes.