The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a proposed rule requesting additional scientific data to support the safety and effectiveness of certain active ingredients used in topical consumer antiseptic rubs (including hand sanitizers) marketed over-the-counter (OTC). The FDA’s request for more data is intended to help the agency ensure that regular use of these products does not present unknown safety and efficacy concerns, and does not mean the FDA believes these products are ineffective or unsafe.
Antiseptic rubs are products that are intended to be used by consumers when soap and water are not available, and are left on and not rinsed off with water. Millions of Americans use antiseptic rubs daily, sometimes multiple times a day, to help reduce bacteria on their hands.
“Today, consumers are using antiseptic rubs more frequently at home, work, school and in other public settings where the risk of infection is relatively low,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “These products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable, but it’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day. To do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients.”
The CDC advises that washing hands with plain soap and running water is one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading infections to others. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.