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FDA Warns Proctor and Gamble about Unlawful Marketing Claims with Hand Sanitizer for Kids

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: hand sanitizer, triclosan, antibacterial soap

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(NewsTarget) The FDA has sent an official warning letter to Procter and Gamble over the company's marketing of Vick's Early Defense Foaming Hand Sanitizer. The agency warned Procter and Gamble that its marketing claims for the hand sanitizer were "unlawful," because the FDA has not approved the product as either safe or effective for the uses that the company encourages.

Procter and Gamble actively promotes the hand sanitizer as a product for fighting germs and preventing colds in school-age children, claiming that the effects last for three hours. The company's web site encourages mothers to enter schools in a "Germ Fighting Fest" contest to win prizes and product samples.

But the FDA says that Procter and Gamble's claims have no support. One concern among many is that FDA rules require that products containing triclosan -- the active ingredient in Vick's Early Defense Foaming Hand Sanitizer -- instruct users to rinse their hands after use. Yet the Procter and Gamble product is marketed as an antibacterial agent to be used when soap and water are not available, merely being rubbed into the hands and left there.

It is also notable that triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical, but has not been proven effective against viruses such as those responsible for the cold or flu.

While the FDA says that it is aware of no health risks associated with the hand sanitizer product, triclosan has previously been linked to certain carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting effects.

"I believe Triclosan to be an unsafe chemical that poses real dangers to neurological health," said consumer health advocate Mike Adams, editor of NaturalNews.com. "I strongly advise all parents to avoid exposing their children to triclosan, a chemical that's found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste and other personal care products."

Procter and Gamble responded to the letter by saying that it has no plans to change its marketing. The company wrote the FDA's concerns off to a misunderstanding and promised to work with the agency to "resolve whatever discrepancies appear to be present." There is no mention of the official warning made on the company's web site.

The FDA has the authority to seize products or order other disciplinary action against Procter and Gamble if the company does not act on the official warning.

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