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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NY Times: Triclosan in hand sanitizers: NOT Popular

While I've never been a big fan of the slant that the NY Times puts on the news, I guess someone has to be the "otherside of the coin" to the Bill O'Reilly-style of "fair and balanced reporting".

With that said, today's Science section "Germ Fighters May Lead to Hardier Germs" provides stark and scary insight regarding the use of Triclosan in hand sanitizing products.

This is the ingredient that P&G incorporates as the "primary germ killing juice" within Vick's 'alcohol-free hand sanitizer"--the same product that was censured by the FDA in September for making false efficacy claims..

Here are excerpts from Tara Parker-Pope's coverage

"...But some recent laboratory studies suggest that antibacterial products containing triclosan may not be the best way to stay clean. Instead of wiping out bacteria randomly, the way regular soap or alcohol-based products do, triclosan may inhibit the growth of bacteria in a way that leaves a larger proportion of resistant bacteria behind, according to lab studies at Tufts and Colorado State Universities, among others.

But Allison E. Aiello, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says the laboratory evidence against triclosan is compelling enough to raise questions about the products.

The question about cleaners containing triclosan is whether the agent kills germs randomly or whether it promotes the same selection pressures that can lead to antibiotic resistance. The worry is not that bacteria might become resistant to triclosan. The fear is that the same bacteria that resist triclosan can also resist certain antibiotics. And a handful of lab studies have suggested that triclosan may select for resistant bacteria.

“Here you have a substance that has been widely used in hospital settings and household settings,” said Herbert P. Schweizer, associate director for research at the department of microbiology, immunology and pathology at Colorado State University, who conducted some of the lab studies showing triclosan resistance. “The exposure to this widely used antimicrobial caused emergence of multidrug resistance in laboratory strains.”

That studies of triclosan use haven’t shown a resistance problem in the community doesn’t mean it won’t happen, said Dr. Stuart B. Levy, a microbiology professor at Tufts who is president of the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics.

“I’m the first to say we haven’t seen a difference yet in the home,” Dr. Levy said. “We know from antibiotic data that if it happens in a lab it will eventually happen outside the lab."\

Tara writes a daily health blog for the NY Times--and we're simply waiting for her to visit this blog so that she can learn more about safer and effective alternatives to legacy alcohol-based products.

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