The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited certain active substances from over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products. This rule applies to consumer antiseptic wash products containing one or more of 19 specific active ingredients, including the most commonly used ingredients - triclosan and triclocarban.
According to the FDA, these ingredients were not demonstrated safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections. Actually some data suggested that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.
Antibacterial hand and body wash manufacturers did not provide the necessary data to establish safety and effectiveness for the 19 active ingredients addressed in this final rulemaking. For these ingredients, either no additional data were submitted or the data and information that were submitted were not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRAS/GRAE).
As a consequence, companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these substances.
The rule only addresses products that are intended for use with water, and are rinsed off after use. It does not affect consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, or antibacterial products used in health care settings.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
In response to comments submitted by industry, the FDA has deferred rulemaking for one year on three additional ingredients used in consumer wash products - benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol (PCMX) - to allow for the development and submission of new safety and effectiveness data for these ingredients. Consumer antibacterial washes containing these specific ingredients may be marketed during this time while data are being collected.
Manufacturers will have one year to comply with the rulemaking by removing products from the market or reformulating (removing antibacterial active ingredients) these products.