[Pharmwaste] Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial But Without The Risk

PDeLeo at sdahq.org PDeLeo at sdahq.org
Thu Aug 16 13:47:49 EDT 2007

I would like to reply to this posting with the caveat that I represent the
industry that manufactures antibacterial soaps.

The authors state that they wish to compare the potential hazards versus
benefits of antibacterial soaps, in particular those containing Triclosan.
They state the hazard is the potential emergence of antibiotic resistance.
They cite eleven studies where cross-resistance to antibiotics was observed
among laboratory cultures exposed to Triclosan.  Yes, this kind of research
has been conducted for more than a decade and is useful in defining the
scope of the safety of these products.  However, the next step would be to
see whether the laboratory phenomenon is observed when the products are
actually used.  The authors cite two community-level studies, one by Eugene
Cole and one conducted by themselves.  They state "Neither of these studies
demonstrated the emergence of antibiotic resistance associated with the
use, over a 1-year period, of the liquid hand soap containing 0.2%
triclosan compared to plain soap."  So what am I missing?  By their own
research they have concluded there is no such hazard (antibiotic
cross-resistance).  In fact they go on to point out a number of reasons why
the effect was observed in the laboratory setting and not in the community
setting (e.g., the lab experiments used a very low, selective
concentration).  Finally, they point out that "Consumer hygiene products
containing triclosan have been used since the 1960s...".  There has been no
evidence that the use of Triclosan in antibacterial soaps has contributed
to antibiotic resistance.  Contrast that with the use of sub-theraputic
doses of fluoroquinolones in poultry production which was determined to
lead to antibiotic resistance among pathogens in poultry; that use was
banned by FDA in 2005 (or more accurately, the drug approval was

I think it is significant to note that Drs. Aiello, Larson and Levy
(especially Dr. Levy) have been among the foremost advocates for the
prevention of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.  Their advocacy usually
focuses on those activities which are known to lead to antibiotic
resistance, namely the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans (e.g.,
prescription of an antibiotic for a cold), and the inappropriate use of
antibiotics in agriculture.

Paul DeLeo

Paul C. DeLeo, PhD.
Director, Environmental Safety
The Soap and Detergent Association
1500 K Street, N.W., Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 662-2516 - voice
(202) 347-4110 - FAX
pdeleo at sdahq.org

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                                       [Pharmwaste] Plain Soap As          
                                       Effective As Antibacterial But      
             08/16/2007 10:47          Without     The Risk                


Source: University of Michigan

Date: August 16, 2007

Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial But Without The Risk

Science Daily - Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain
soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective,
says a University of Michigan public health professor.

In the first known comprehensive analysis of whether antibacterial soaps
work better than plain soaps, Allison Aiello of the U-M School of Public
Health and her team found that washing hands with an antibacterial soap
was no more effective in preventing infectious illness than plain soap.
Moreover, antibacterial soaps at formulations sold to the public do not
remove any more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps.

Because of the way the main active ingredient---triclosan---in many
antibacterial soaps reacts in the cells, it may cause some bacteria to
become resistant to commonly used drugs such as amoxicillin, the
researchers say. These changes have not been detected at the population
level, but e-coli bacteria bugs adapted in lab experiments showed
resistance when exposed to as much as 0.1 percent wt/vol triclosan soap.

"What we are saying is that these e-coli could survive in the
concentrations that we use in our (consumer formulated) antibacterial
soaps," Aiello said. "What it means for consumers is that we need to be
aware of what's in the products. The soaps containing triclosan used in
the community setting are no more effective than plain soap at
preventing infectious illness symptoms, as well as reducing bacteria on
the hands."

The study, "Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky""
appears in the August edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The team
looked at 27 studies conducted between 1980 and 2006, and found that
soaps containing triclosan within the range of concentrations commonly
used in the community setting (0.1 to 0.45 percent wt/vol) were no more
effective than plain soaps. Triclosan is used in higher concentrations
in hospitals and other clinical settings, and may be more effective at
reducing illness and bacteria.

Triclosan works by targeting a biochemical pathway in the bacteria that
allows the bacteria to keep its cell wall intact. Because of the way
triclosan kills the bacteria, mutations can happen at the targeted site.
Aiello says a mutation could mean that the triclosan can no longer get
to the target site to kill the bacteria because the bacteria and the
pathway have changed form.

The analysis concludes that government regulators should evaluate
antibacterial product claims and advertising, and further studies are
encouraged. The FDA does not formally regulate the levels of triclosan
used in consumer products.

Other antiseptic products on the market contain different active
ingredients, such as the alcohol in hand sanitizers or the bleach in
some antibacterial household cleaners. Aiello's team did not study those
products and those ingredients are not at issue.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by
University of Michigan.

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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