Friday, October 21, 2005

The Dangers of Antibacterial Soap

Do antibacterial soaps work?
FDA advisers say they're no better than regular soap

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.

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.

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.

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