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Medical News & Perspectives
January 15, 2014

FDA Pushes Makers of Antimicrobial Soap to Prove Safety and Effectiveness

JAMA. 2014;311(3):234. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285971

Each year US consumers are exposed to 2.2 million pounds of antimicrobial agents in soaps and body washes, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recent evidence from animal and cell-based studies that has raised questions about potential health risks associated with this widespread exposure prompted the FDA last month to ask the makers of these products to prove their safety and effectiveness.

Use of antimicrobial soaps and body washes is ubiquitous in homes and public places, despite the low risks of bacterial infection associated with these environments, explained Sandra Kweder, MD, deputy director of the Office of New Drugs at the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, during a December press briefing. There is also little evidence to suggest that these products offer any benefit compared with washing with ordinary soap and water, she noted.

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