Mon, Sep 05, 2016 - Page 3 News List

FDA says no immediate action on soap chemicals

NO GLOBAL BAN:A Division of Medical Devices and Cosmetics official said that substances banned in the US can still be used in hand or body wash elsewhere

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said that it would not immediately ban the use of chemicals used in antibacterial soaps, despite a US prohibition on 19 such substances, adding that it would discuss the issue with specialists.

The US agency issued the ban on Friday, stipulating that due to insufficient data to prove the 19 ingredients — including the most commonly used, triclosan and triclocarban — are effective at preventing the spread of germs coupled with data suggesting that long-term exposure to the ingredients poses health risks, companies have a year to remove the chemicals from their products or stop selling the products.

“We have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water... In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients might do more harm than good over the long-term,” US Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital nephrologist Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海) said that “Triclosan an triclocarban can be considered antibiotics... If people wash their hands with hand wash containing the two chemicals all the time, in the long run, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli in the environment can develop resistance to the chemicals.”

He said there is no need to regularly wash with products containing the chemicals, and if the bacteria develop resistance, then people might not respond to drugs if they have an infection.

Division of Medical Devices and Cosmetics section head Hung Kuo-teng (洪國登) said that triclosan and triclocarban are among 21 antibacterial chemicals used in Taiwan, but both are still allowed to be used in hand or body wash in many European countries, as well as in Japan and China.

“The FDA will continue to collect data on the safety of the antibacterial agents and the regulations on them in other countries,” Hung said, adding that the agency would seek opinions from specialists and evaluate the issues before deciding whether the rules need changing.

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