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June 29, 1970

Cosmetic or Drug

JAMA. 1970;212(13):2255-2256. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170260051014

One more measure of the complexity of our modern society is the increasingly difficult task of defining a cosmetic—as distinguished from a drug. The legal definition of a cosmetic that languishes in the current federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (and its amendments and administrative interpretations) is not relevant to the tremendous expansion of the varieties of cosmetics of the past decade. This is apparent not only from the amount of litigation seeking an interpretation of the law but also from the disparity of the interpretations.

The legal definition of a cosmetic is not only important to legislators, government administrators, and the regulated industry, but it also is of fundamental significance to the individual consumer, since the legal requirements for premarketing testing and evaluation are quite extensive for drugs and relatively nonexistent for cosmetics. Those physicians who are involved in the evaluation of cosmetics for safety are concerned that adequate