Healthcare antibacterials earn FDA scrutiny

Prompted by a federal lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to review the safety and efficacy of antibacterial products (including environmentally risky antibacterial soap) used in the medical industry.

According to the April 30, 2015 announcement, products that are not proven to be safe and effective by 2018 would have to be reformulated or removed from the market.

In a statement from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Attorney Mae Wu said, “We are pleased that the FDA is moving to determine whether the antibacterial products widely used in healthcare settings are safe and effective for patients, doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers. This is a long-overdue and important step toward removing potentially harmful chemicals from the marketplace."

This review follows a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the National Resources Defense Council, which called on the FDA to finalize regulations for antibacterial soaps that have hung in limbo for about 35 years.

FMR has closely monitored potential regulatory changes to antibacterial additives in consumer products following the 2012 State of the River Report, which highlighted an alarming increase in river pollution from triclosan, a common antibacterial additive in consumer products.

While Minnesota earned the distinction as the first state to pass legislation phasing-out the use of triclosan in cleaning products during the 2014 legislative session, FMR remains hopeful that additional federal scrutiny of potentially risky antibacterial products will yield promising results for environmental and public health.