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FDA Bans Antibacterial Soaps



Have you been buying soaps and body washes labeled “antibacterial” thinking they’ll keep your family safer?

Think again. On Friday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued a final rule prohibiting the sale of over-the-counter (OTC), antibacterial soaps and washes.


Because, according to FDA, there isn’t enough science to show that (OTC antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. In addition, the wide use of these products over a long time has raised the question of potential negative effects on your health.

After studying the issue, including reviewing available literature and hosting public meetings, in 2013 the FDA issued a proposed rule requiring safety and efficacy data from manufacturers, consumers, and others if they wanted to continue marketing antibacterial products containing those ingredients, but very little information has been provided. That’s why the FDA is issuing a final rule under which OTC consumer antiseptic wash products (including liquid, foam, gel hand soaps, bar soaps, and body washes) containing the majority of the antibacterial active ingredients—including triclosan and triclocarban—will no longer be able to be marketed.

Some manufacturers have already started removing these ingredients from their products, ahead of the FDA’s final rule.


“Following simple hand washing practices is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness at home, at school and elsewhere,” says Theresa M. Michele, MD, of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products. “We can’t advise this enough. It’s simple, and it works.”

The FDA’s final rule covers only consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water. It does not apply to hand sanitizers or hand wipes. It also does not apply to antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes.


Antibacterial, FDA


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