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Attacks on Antibacterial Soaps? Nothing New to Report

Beneficial Products Continue to Play a Role in Daily Hygiene Routines, Says SDA

WASHINGTON, DC – August 21, 2007 – The latest criticism of the use of beneficial antibacterial soap products provides no new information, according to The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA).

SDA expressed disappointment that the marketing of an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases – summarizing previously reported studies on antibacterial soaps – has been repackaged into a broad-based attack on products that are used safely and effectively by millions of people every single day.

"The fact is, studies presented to the Food and Drug Administration have shown bacteria reduction on the hands from the use of antibacterial soaps," said Brian Sansoni, SDA Vice President of Communication. "These products play an important role in daily hygiene routines – but they should not serve as the only means of infection control.

"Additionally, there are numerous examples of official regulations, guidelines or recommendations for the use of antibacterial soaps in general population settings or situations."

What is most disappointing is the authors' revisiting attempts to link real-life use of these products to antibiotic resistance – a claim that is refuted by one of their own previous studies.

Their research, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Emerging Infectious Diseases (October 2005), found that the use of antibacterial cleaning products does not lead to a "significant increase in antimicrobial drug resistance after one year, nor did it have an effect on bacterial susceptibility to triclosan." You can find the research paper online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol11no10/04-1276.htm.

This and numerous other scientific reviews have shown there is no real world evidence linking the use of topical antimicrobial products to antibiotic resistance.

"Continuing to hype this hypothesis detracts attention from the major contributor to antibiotic resistance: the over-prescription of antibiotic drugs," added Sansoni.

Research published in a supplement to the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy in August 2007 reported that antibiotics are still being prescribed "for up to 80% of cases of sore throat, otitis media, upper respiratory tract infections, and sinusitis, despite the fact that official guidance warns against this practice" (Science Daily, July 27, 2007).

"Consumers can continue to use antibacterial soaps with confidence, as they already do on a daily basis," said Sansoni.

Information on the safety and efficacy of antibacterial hygiene and cleaning products is available online on SDA's website, at www.cleaninginstitute.org/antibacterials.