It’s unknown how much disruption there will be in the marketplace if ingredients such as triclosan are phased out, requiring products to be reformulated, says Sansoni.

Some soap manufacturers already have customers asking for and expecting triclosan-free alternatives.

“Customers are definitely concerned,” says Isabelle Faivre, vice president of marketing for Deb USA, Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Customers are asking for an alternative active ingredient that still provides antibacterial benefits, she says. However, since triclosan is the least expensive active ingredient, replacing it with a chloroxylenol (PCMX) or a quat usually has an impact on cost.

As Deb points out in a press release, those two alternatives are listed in the same category in the FDA’s Tentative Final Monograph, and, therefore, their use will likely also be affected by the proposed rule.

Faivre says the company is working on making a new accelerated hydrogen peroxide product, currently available in Europe, available in the United States.

“It’s considered a new drug, so we’re going through the long and very expensive process to register it,” says Faivre. “In Europe, we saw customers switching to that product as soon as it was introduced.”

GOJO Industries Inc. acknowledges there may not be enough clinical evidence of the benefits of antimicrobial handwashes over nonantimicrobial soap and water in typical consumer settings. But it asserts that healthcare and food handling are an exception.

“We have a responsibility to direct customers to the safest, most effective solutions to meet their preferences, promote human health and minimize ecological impacts. As the regulatory landscape evolves, we encourage customers to understand their options,” says Nicole Koharik, global sustainability marketing director for GOJO, Akron, Ohio.

In the meantime, manufacturers are offering helpful hand hygiene advice to customers. Emerging evidence suggests that there are better alternatives to triclosan, says Koharik, and GOJO is in the process of developing alternative products. She notes that the active ingredient in hand sanitizers is alcohol, not triclosan, as the FDA prohibits the use of triclosan in leave-on products.
“For the most comprehensive, effective and safe hand hygiene solution, GOJO recommends complementing the use of a nonantimicrobial soap with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer,” says Koharik.

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