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Government Science

FDA Seeks Tougher Rules For Antibacterial Soaps 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-clean dept.
barlevg writes "It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant 'superbugs,' but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether."
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FDA Seeks Tougher Rules For Antibacterial Soaps

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  • Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by therealkevinkretz (1585825) * on Monday December 16, 2013 @03:48PM (#45706803)

    The bigger problem is antibiotic use on farms, and the FDA's recent toothless rules ( http://theweek.com/article/index/254057/why-the-fdas-new-antibiotic-rules-fall-short [theweek.com] ) rely on the farmers who use them to mediate the results of cruel conditions (overcrowding, etc) and the companies who sell them to voluntarily cut back on their use. Good luck with that.

    Meantime they hit hard on Purell users. Bah.

  • Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:00PM (#45706945) Journal

    Even if they do kill some bacteria, the important thing is whether they have efficacy in preventing disease. For that matter, killing too many bacteria could even encourage disease, by reducing the effectiveness of our immune systems.

  • Re:there is proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barlevg (2111272) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:00PM (#45706949)
    The issue is not whether they kill germs. Hell, "old age" will eventually kill bacteria. [researchgate.net] The issue is whether antibacterial soaps are any more effective than just soap and water.
  • Re:Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 16, 2013 @04:37PM (#45707373) Journal

    Indeed, the hygiene hypothesis has been getting a lot of attention lately.

    And it only took 14 years since George Carlin [youtube.com] introduced it. Personally, it seems to me that if children emerge from the womb with an instinctual urge to put everything they can get their hands on in their mouth, there must be some evolutionary benefit to that.

  • Re:Come on (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday December 16, 2013 @08:34PM (#45709905)

    How does one go about PROVING a chemical to be safe?

    Regulatory capture and biased media coverage, mostly.

    Perhaps you missed the point that it is the rest of the world whose FDA equivalents are working under the "prove it is safe" paradigm. Are you truly aiming your snark at non-US governments and claiming that those non-US agencies are victims of "regulatory capture" and "biased media" and that's how they're proving that things are safe? And then, by extension, that since the FDA does not try to prove chemicals are safe they are not subject to regulatory capture and biased media? If so, what an unexpected turn in the /. environment.

    The correct, non-snarky, non-political answer to the question is, of course, that one cannot prove the lack of any possible negative consequences to any chemical under FDA review. I.e., you can't prove something is safe, only that it doesn't immediately kill a large percentage of the test subjects.

  • Re:Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Monday December 16, 2013 @09:40PM (#45710397)

    Yes, the first point is entirely true: widespread use on farms is where one of the major problems are.

    Home-use soaps are potentially a concern, but a much smaller factor.

    Your confusion is appropriate: the marketing of things as "antibacterial" is inconsistent and, mostly, stupid. There are soaps (and other consumer products, like plastics) that include a wide variety of different antibiotics, ones that include different kinds of bacteriacides altogether, and ones that include simple things like bleach and ethanol. Purell, which is ethanol, is certainly antibacterial, in that it's excellent at killing bacteria. But in this article, when they're talking about "antibacterial soaps", that's not what they mean. So consistent and helpful!

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