Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Safe Cosmetics Act 2010

I recently read at about a proposed law that would regulate the ingredients in cosmetics, which by definition would affect not only our makeup, but also much of the skin care we use.

A bill that would significantly tighten up the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations of cosmetics and personal care products was introduced into the House of Representatives in July. Backed by Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Ed Markey, and Tammy Baldwin, the bill has the support of a consumer group, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. According to the Campaign, the bill will "overhaul the law that allows chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, or other illnesses in the products we use on our bodies every day." "Harmful chemicals have no place in the products we put on our bodies or on our children's bodies,” said Representative Schakowsky. “Our cosmetics laws are woefully out of date. Manufacturers aren't even required to disclose all their ingredients on labels, leaving Americans unknowingly exposed to harmful mystery ingredients. This bill will finally protect those consumers,” she added.

The proposed bill would require cosmetics companies to provide significantly more information to the FDA than is currently required, including details of the ingredients, safety data assessments, and full company and product details. In addition, the bill calls on the FDA to set up a data base for cosmetics ingredients, classing them into three categories: prohibited ingredients, restricted ingredients, and ingredients that are safe without limits.

The Act has been criticized by an industry trade association, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC). While the Council purportedly supports the drive to increase FDA involvement in cosmetics regulation, it says the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010 is "not based on credible and established scientific principles." Whatever that means. In addition, the Council has raised concerns about the burden that enforcing a law that would place on FDA (huh?). They claim it would create a mammoth new regulatory structure for cosmetics, parts of which would far exceed that of any other FDA-regulated product category, including food or drugs. "The measures the bill would mandate are likely unachievable, even with the addition of hundreds of additional FDA scientists and millions more in funding and would not make a meaningful contribution to product safety,” CEO of the Council, Lezlee Westine said.

Recently, the Council proposed its own ideas of how cosmetics regulation could be improved with greater involvement from FDA and urged Congress to consider these proposals as well as speed up the passage of the FDA Globalization Act of 2009, which also stands to enhance FDA regulations of cosmetics manufacturers.

PCPC suggests that manufacturers systematically submit product ingredient reports to FDA, with lists of all ingredients used in each product, as well as registering all manufacturing facilities. In addition, the trade association is proposing that manufacturers report any serious, unexpected adverse effects experienced by consumers to the regulatory body. It also proposes to change how the safety profiles of ingredients are investigated and who should be involved in this process. Sounds like the fox guarding the hen house to me - sort of like BP's proposals for regulation of deep-sea mining.

At present, the Cosmetics Ingredients Review (CIR) Expert Panel (an independent panel of experts) reviews cosmetics ingredients for safety; however, PCPC is proposing that the FDA review all the CIR safety assessments, including those already completed. If the findings of the CIR Expert Panel are deemed to be lacking, the FDA will have to determine under what conditions the ingredient could be used. Talk about overwhelming the FDA!

What do you think? Would stricter requirements on cosmetics ingredients stifle the industry (as has occurred with new drugs that might help cure terrible diseases) or would it protect us? I'd love to know your thoughts! Despite my sarcasm above, I think there has to be a balance between innovation and regulation. I'm not sure where that lies.

Information from Cosmetics Design


Miss Krimson said...

deff interestin post! I was just readin about this.... it has its pros and its cons for sure... it would protect us yet companies wouldnt launch as many products. companies with exsistin products that contain hazardous inredients would freak out and reputable companies who pay for their popularity would probably be put on the black list.

Charlestongirl said...

Time will tell, Miss Krimson. I'm on the fence. There are certain ingredients I doubt we'd miss, but there are new ingredients in some fabulous skin care that we wouldn't have yet if those ingredients had had to go through a lengthy review process.

Eileen said...

The US already limits the ingredients that can be used in cosmetics, toiletries, and fragrances far more stringently than is done in Asian and European markets. Just ask anyone in the US who has ever tried to get the legendary Erika F!

I think between the FDA and the cosmetic industry, a pretty good job is already being done when it comes to safety. After all, what legit company would want to risk a huge lawsuit--possibly class action--and subsequent loss of customer base because of an unsafe ingredient? This is the US, after all, the most litigious country on the face of the planet! As for the shadier fly-by-night operations, they don't pay attention to regulations anyway. That's always been a case of caveat emptor.

We already know that the beleaguered FDA is in way over its head just studying new medicines. What would happen if we added even more beauty industry requirements to its to-do list? I'm all for safety, but I'd rather the FDA focus on potentially life-saving remedies rather than on my shampoo which has been doing an excellent job for many years with no ill effects.

To make an informed decision as to whether or not more regulation is needed, I would have to see hard data on the actual number of injuries (not allergic reactions) and/or deaths caused by ingredients used in the industry.

I don't know, Charlestongirl. There are always people out there trying to save us from ourselves and maybe this is just another example of that, or perhaps there really is a need for greater vigilance and I just haven't heard about it. It all comes down to data, data, data.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Eileen,

Thank you for the thoughtful and considered response! I was hoping to generate thoughful reactions. You made my day!