Update on Antibacterial Hand Soaps

Background: On December 16, 2013, FDA proposed a ban on antibacterial consumer hand soaps, questioning effectiveness relative to ordinary soaps and expressing concern that “…exposure to certain active ingredients in these products could pose health risks such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.” FDA gave manufacturers 6 months to comment on the proposed ban and 1 year to provide clinical studies showing effectiveness.

Current Events: In response, the American Cleaning Institute and Personal Care Products Council filed extensive comments on the rule and funded a new, non-clinical study showing effectiveness.  In that study (which appears to have lacked critical neutralization-verification controls, critical for chlorhexidine and triclosan), liberal use of antibacterial soap appeared to kill 90-99% more bacteria on hands than ordinary soap. Finalization of the new rules is expected after December 16, 2014.