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April 17, 1972

Who Needs Hexachlorophene? Hospitals and Some People

Author Affiliations

chairman AMA Committee on Cutaneous Health and Cosmetics Chicago

JAMA. 1972;220(3):409-410. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200030067021

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Hexachlorophene, the most widely used agent to prevent bacterial overgrowth and limit contamination, is incorporated in untold numbers and kinds of consumer goods. Its merits, touted by some, remain unmentioned by others. In a considerable variety of consumer goods, the rationale for its use is obscure, and its consumer appeal, until now, large.

Nonetheless, hexachlorophene fills a health need with scientifically documented effectiveness. It is therefore unfortunate that the Food and Drug Administration has proposed new regulations which will materially restrict the use of hexachlorophene. Among the several problems which the contemplated restrictive regulations create is that of finding a substitute for this antibacterial and preservative substance. If a substitute were immediately available, it would take 20 years of testing and an enormous test population to permit comparison of effectiveness and safety with hexachlorophene's "use test." Were it possible to reduce the time and the sample of testing of such