Medicine: The Staph Scare

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, often accused of moving too slowly to protect the public from harmful substances, cannot seem to win friends with decisive action either. The agency's latest dilemma involves hexachlorophene, the germ killer used in many soaps, deodorants and medicinal cleansers. Recently, the FDA moved to ban hexachlorophene from cosmetics and warned against bathing babies in compounds rich in the chemical (TIME, Dec. 20; Jan. 17).

When absorbed through the skin in sufficient quantity, experiments with animals had shown, hexachlorophene caused brain damage. No injury to humans was proved,...

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