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Coming Soon to a Lawbook Near You - New Cosmetic Requirements

Back in April 2015, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act (S.1014). More recently, on September 22, 2016, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee received testimony from Senators Feinstein and Collins in support of this bipartisan legislation.  The HELP Committee also heard from experts in the cosmetics industry about product developments and health standards.

Witnesses in favor of the Personal Care Products Safety Act stated that the FDA has not done enough to ban endocrine-disrupting chemicals in cosmetic products and that industry-financed review programs should not substitute government regulatory programs in collecting chemical toxicity data.  They contrasted FDA’s inability to ban products unless they are “adulterated” with the more expansive authorities of similar regulatory agencies in Canada, Japan, and the European Union.

Witnesses against the proposed legislation described chemical toxicity testing procedures already place, such as the Human Repeat Insult Patch Test (HRIPT).  They also noted the proposed legislation would have a disproportionate impact on smaller companies, as stricter national standards for the entire industry are expected to increase the costs of producing and distributing all kinds of personal care and cosmetic products.

As we described last year when the bill was first introduced, the Personal Care Products Safety Act would introduce significant changes to the current U.S. regulatory system for cosmetics.  Among other provisions, the bill would require cosmetic manufacturers to register with FDA annually and submit ingredient information to the agency, and for larger firms registration would be accompanied by a user fee.  Such a registration and user fee system would be similar to what is currently mandated for drug and device manufacturers.  Registered cosmetic firms would also be required to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices for their products, analogous to what drug and device companies must comply with today; such “cosmetic GMPs” would need to be developed by FDA through notice-and-comment rulemaking so that industry and other stakeholders have an opportunity to provide feedback before the rules are finalized.  In addition, S. 1014 would give FDA mandatory recall authority over cosmetics (an authority that the agency only recently obtained for food products under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011), and cosmetic firms would be required to report serious adverse events to FDA within 15 business days of becoming aware of the event.

Despite some opposition, congressional aides say the proposed legislation is likely to see movement next year.  FDA, too, welcomes the opportunity to increase its regulatory power over the cosmetics and personal care products.  Citing recent adverse event reports about WEN hair products, the Agency has stressed the need to do away with voluntary reporting for adverse events so that companies are required to report serious adverse events as they become aware of them.  FDA also has raised concerns about studies done by the industry self-regulatory process called Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), claiming they are summaries of voluntary data rather than analyses of raw data from clinical trials.  Overall, therefore, FDA is supportive of the Senate’s effort to expand the agency’s cosmetic oversight power.  Many industry members also support the bipartisan compromise legislation, as do consumer protection groups who view some strengthening of the U.S. regulatory system as "better than nothing."

We will be keeping track of the fate of the Personal Care Products Safety Act, both during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress and in the new Congress that convenes in January 2017.

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Fatema Ghasletwala