Lawmakers discuss more power in FDA with cosmetics

Washington D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers held a hearing Wednesday to discuss the growing number of unregulated cosmetic products on the market.

Lawmakers are looking to pass two pieces of legislation to give the FDA more power to review ingredients in products like makeup, deodorant, perfumes and issue recalls — if any hazards are discovered.

This takes place as Johnson & Johnson faces lawsuits over claims of an ingredient in its baby power that is causing cancer.

If passed, this will be the first update to federal cosmetic regulations in 80 years.

Most beauty and skin care products used every day have never been tested for health and safety by the federal government.

“People are simply stunned when they find out,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said. “Mothers and fathers were horrified when they found out that their children were going to one of the most popular stores in the country and buying makeup that had asbestos in it.”

After decades of inaction, Dingell says Congress must improve regulation to protect Americans.

But at a Wednesday’s hearing, Dr. Susan Mayne, with the U.S Food and Drug Administration, told lawmakers her agency doesn’t have the resources to keep up. There are thousands of products on the market.

“FDA does not have a complete picture of what cosmetic products are on the market or what ingredients they contain,” Mayne said.

Scott Faber, senior vice president of Government Affairs with the Environmental Working Group, says companies like Johnson & Johnson need more oversight.

Right now, thousands of consumers are suing the company. They say an ingredient in its baby powder gave them cancer.

“I think it’s clear that FDA should have the power to act if people are getting hurt,” Faber said. “The FDA has no way to know when things go wrong and no power to act when they do.”

But Georgia Republican Congressman Buddy Carter says lawmakers should be careful.

“I’m very concerned about an overreaction here,” Carter said.

Leigh O’Donnell, executive director with the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, says the new regulations could do more harm than good.

“Every dollar counts in a small business,” O’Donnell said.

So far, the bills only have Democrat support, but that could change. Republicans made it clear after Wednesday’s hearing that they are looking forward to working across the aisle to find solutions to address this problem. They all agree action on this issue can’t wait much longer.

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