Skip to comments.Experts refute anti-bacterial soap claims
Posted on 10/21/2005 9:07:54 PM PDT by neverdem
WASHINGTON -- Antibacterial soaps and washes aren't any better than plain, old soap and water for fighting illness in the household, says a panel of federal health advisers.
They warned manufacturers they will have to prove their products' benefits or they may be restricted from marketing them.
Dr. Alastair Wood, chairman of the panel which met Thursday to advise the Food and Drug Administration, said he saw no reason to purchase antibacterial products, given they generally cost more than soap.
The advisers also worried the potential risks of the products, particularly the common hand soaps and body washes that use synthetic chemicals, create an environmental hazard and could contribute to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
"I think we're seeing a lot of sentiment against (antibacterials) being marketed to the consumer" unless they can show some added benefit over regular soap and water, said Dr. Mary E. Tinetti, a member of the panel.
Industry representatives contend their products are safe and more effective than conventional soaps, because they kill germs instead of just washing them off. They said consumers should have a right to choose their products in a free market.
Their products have grown significantly in popularity in the last decade, as consumers decided killing germs was better than simply washing them down the drain.
But the FDA said controlled studies found no significant difference in infections in households using antibacterial products and those with regular soap and water.
On Thursday, the agency's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Panel, composed of independent experts, recommended no specific regulatory action against the manufacturers, but called on FDA to study the products' risks versus their benefits.
The agency has the authority to order warning labels on the products or place restrictions on how they are marketed to the public. Susan Johnson, associate director of nonprescription products for the FDA, said the agency would pay close attention to the panel's concerns.
FDA officials and panelists raised concerns about whether the antibacterials contribute to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, and said the agency has not found any medical studies that definitively linked specific antibacterial products to reduced infection rates.
Dr. Stuart B. Levy, president of the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics, said laboratory studies have suggested the soaps sometimes leave behind bacteria that have a better ability to flush threatening substances - from antibacterial soap chemicals to antibiotics - from their system.
"What we're seeing is evolution in action," he said of the process.
He advocated restricting antibacterial products from consumer use, leaving them solely for hospitals and homes with very sick people.
"Bacteria are not going to be destroyed," he said. "They've seen dinosaurs come and go. They will be happy to see us come and go. Any attempt to sterilize our home is fraught with failure."
Levy said overuse of antibiotics is the main cause of bacteria developing resistance to them. He acknowledged that a yearlong study showed that homes using antibacterial soaps did not show an increase in resistant bacteria in significant numbers, but he argued the soaps will still contribute to resistance over a longer period.
Industry representatives said they would provide more information to FDA about their products safety and effectiveness.
"The importance of controlling bacteria in the home is no different than the professional setting," said Elizabeth Anderson, associate general counsel for the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association. "We feel strongly that consumers must continue to have the choice to use these products."
Panelists also distinguished alcohol-based hand cleansers from antibacterial soaps and washes. The cleansers are particularly useful in situations in which soap and water are not available.
I love the stuff!
you know all of these scientist can go to he.l
We're doomed. We're all doomed!
That does it! I'm not washing up any more.
That will work real well!
I prefer to hang out with clean consumers rather than dirty bureaucrats telling me what to buy.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list. Anyone can post any unrelated link as they see fit.
Some non scientific testing on my part, bathing with different varieties of the same soap (Lever 2000) showed the antibacterial soap reduced the incidence of, ahem, body zits compared with its non antibacterial cousins. I'd expect that to happen since the soap doesn't entirely wash away; a small residue remains in the skin. To do a more scientific test, one would have to test the same soap formulation with no differences other than the antibacterial component (triclocarban or triclosan).
A good old bar of Ivory soap will do just as well as the anti bacterials----and Ivory floats-(not that anyone except kids care anymore).
I agree... (as a contractor to P&G)
The zit problem sounds like a good reason. An unscientific observation on my part is that kids that are raised in a sterile environment tend to be more sickly than kids that are allowed to get down and dirty. It makes sense to me because they are allowed to actually develop resistance to bacteria. Because of that, I tend to vote against using anti-bacterial soaps.
One would need to track down the causation; it could also be that parents of children who get sick more often try to take more precautions.
OK, here is the deal.
I keep a tube of anti-bacterial soap in my laptop case. I meet people from Asia, shake hands, and sit at the table. I notice they are sniffling.
I casually pull the tube from my bag, squirt a bit on my hands, and rub it in under the table. They have no idea.
Now, explain to me how this is not better than getting up and walking to the bathroom to wash my hands with soap and water????
Anti-bacterial soaps fight body odors better than any old-fashioned soap.
And if I'm dining out, that restroom had better be equipped with anti-bacterial soap, or management is going to hear from me.
What kind of luddite bullshit is this?
I still remember the old radio ads-
"Ivory Soap---99 and 44/100ths percent pure,and it floats."
Ivory floats because they whip air into it. Don't be naive.
I know why it floats---just stating a fact. I'm far from naive.
Then you see they have absolutely no proof of either accusation. Statistics on infections reported in households is not the same as knowing whether the products kill harmful bacteria. Then they admit there is no evidence any super bacteria are being caused.
They want to restrict the use to hospitals. If they don't work and breed super bugs, why do they use them in hospitals????