Bipartisan bill would strengthen FDA’s oversight of cosmetics

The Personal Care Products Safety Act (S. 1014), a new bill sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal) and Susan Collins (R-Me), seeks to protect consumers and streamline compliance in the cosmetics industry by giving the FDA enhanced authority to regulate the ingredients of such products.

Notably, the bill would allow the FDA to force the recall of dangerous products, whereas under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (29 USC §301 et seq.) manufacturers are not required by law to disclose adverse health effects reported by consumers, and the FDA is only able to request the voluntary recall of products. Scott Faber, the vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, told the New York Times, “Most consumers don’t have much faith in voluntary company commitments. The absence of a credible regulator has undermined consumer confidence in everyday products.”

The bill also requires that companies report serious adverse health effects, including reactions to products resulting in death, disfigurement or hospitalization, within 15 business days of obtaining the information from consumers. All nonserious events, such as rashes, must be included in an annual report.

According to a press release from Sen. Feinstein, the FDA would also be mandated under the new bill to annually study five chemicals in order to determine their safety and appropriate use: urea, lead acetate, methylene glycol/formaldehyde, propyl paraben, and quaternium-15.  The process will help provide companies with clear guidance about whether the products should continue to be used and at what concentration levels. The FDA will also provide guidance regarding the consumer warnings needed for products containing these chemicals.

Funding for the FDA’s expanded oversight will come from user fees from personal care products manufacturers.