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A new ruling by a panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals could spur renewed congressional interest in how the Federal Drug Administration regulates a chemical used in hand soap, toys and other consumer products, lawyers said.
On Friday, the panel ruled that the National Resources Defense Counsel could pursue a lawsuit to force the FDA to finalize its review and regulation of the chemical, triclosan, under Over-the-Counter Drug Review regulations.
The decision reversed the district court, which had found in 2011 that the NRDC lacked standing to sue the FDA over triclosan.
In its ruling, the three-judge panel found that the Natural Resources Defense Council had adequately shown that triclosan is potentially dangerous and the FDA had failed to complete a review of the chemical despite decades of research.
The court said the FDA in 1978 and 1994 had released tentative reviews of triclosan and similar chemicals and had proposed the eventual elimination of triclosan from hospital scrubs and hand soaps, but those reviews had never been finalized.
Sending the case back to the district court, the panel wrote, “NRDC’s evidence shows that triclosan may be harmful, that the FDA is unable to determine whether it is, and that FDA’s failure to regulate allows triclosan to enter the market without its safety having been confirmed.”
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