Dial Complete, Other Triclosan Products Spark Controversy

Dial Complete and other soaps made with triclosan are coming under increasing scrutiny because of safety concerns. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing triclosan, and several studies have indicated that the chemical may alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals or cause antibiotic resistance. According to a report published this weekend in The New York Times, several consumer groups have pushed the agency to ban the use of triclosan in antiseptic soaps because of these concerns.

Triclosan was originally developed as a hospital surgical scrub four decades ago. But today, it can be found in a multitude of consumer products, including antibacterial soaps like <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Dial-Complete-Antibacterial-Hand-Wash-Soap-Class-Action-Lawsuit">Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Antibacterial Handwash, as well as cutting boards and toothpaste. This, despite the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it as a pesticide and has rated it high for human health risk and environmental risk.

According to The New York Times, triclosan is also becoming ubiquitous in human beings: A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the chemical present in the urine of 75 percent of Americans over the age of 5.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first proposed regulating triclosan in 1972, but has yet to complete its review, according to the Times. In 1978, the agency proposed eliminating triclosan as an active ingredient in hospital scrubs and in hand soaps, and it issued a similar proposal in 1994. But nothing was ever finalized.

In 2005, the FDA concluded that antimicrobial soaps and sanitizers do not reduce the risk of illness and infection in the home. The Canadian Pediatric Society and the American Medical Association have concluded similarly. Then, in an April 8, 2010 “Consumer Update”, the FDA stated that it does not have evidence that triclosan-containing antibacterial soaps and body washes provide any extra health benefit over soap and water alone.

Last year, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) pressured the FDA to write regulations for antiseptic products like hand soap, including triclosan, the Times said. He has also called for a ban on triclosan in hand soaps, in products that come in contact with food and in products marketed to children.

That same year, the National Resources Defense Council sued the FDA in an attempt to force it to finish its triclosan review.

Yet despite all of this pressure, the FDA said that it would again delay the results of its review. The review was supposed to be completed several months ago, but now an announcement may not come until next year.

Not everyone, however, is waiting for the FDA to act on triclosan. According to the Times, some manufacturers have removed it from consumer products and substituted less controversial ingredients. For example, Colgate-Palmolive replaced triclosan with lactic acid in Palmolive Antibacterial Dish Liquid, and its Softsoap liquid hand soap has been reformulated without the chemical.

Consumers have also taken action against the makers of triclosan products. Over the past year or so, for example, Dial Corporation has been named in a number of class action lawsuits by consumers who allege it claims regarding the germ-killing efficacy of its Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Antibacterial Handwash are misleading. The lawsuits further allege that triclosan, the active antibacterial ingredient in Dial Complete, may lead to bacterial resistance.

Just last week, 10 Dial Complete lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation and transferred to U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire. All of the pending lawsuits purport to represent putative statewide classes of purchasers of Dial Complete, and plaintiffs in two of the actions also seek to represent putative nationwide classes of purchasers.

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