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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Antibacterial soap 'may not work'

Doctors believe conventional soaps may be as effective
Anitbacterial soaps may offer little protection against germs and could even be producing more powerful strains of bacteria, according to doctors.

The American Medical Association has called on the US government to carry out a review of antibacterial soaps.

At a meeting in Chicago, its members suggested antibacterial soaps may be no more effective against germs than ordinary soap.

They said the would monitor a review into the products by the US Food and Drug Administration very closely.

Doctors are particularly concerned that antibacterial soaps could be contributing to the growing problem of drug resistant bacteria.

This may be because it is killing the weakest bacteria, leaving the tougher, hard-to-kill strains dominant.



There is reason to suspect that they could contribute to a problem by helpling to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Dr Myron Genel, American Medical Association
Dr Myron Genel, chairman of the AMA's council on scientific affairs said he "suspected" that this might be the case. "There is no evidence that they do any good and there is reason to suspect that they could contribute to a problem by helpling to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria," he said.

Overuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence of new bacterial strains that are largely untreatable because they are resistant to existing drugs.

However, the AMA stopped short of recommending that consumers should avoid using antibacterial soaps and similar products such as mouthwashes and lotions.

Trade groups in the US criticised the AMA's position, which they dismissed as "unscientific theory".

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