Cosmetics labeling at issue in FDA reform

After months of painstaking bipartisan negotiations, legislation to reform the Food and Drug Administration is poised for consideration in both the House and Senate.

One area of remaining controversy is pre-emption of state labeling and safety regulations for cosmetics, California's Proposition 65 in particular. Prop 65 requires a warning label on products containing toxic substances. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) indicated he could accept national uniformity as long as it covers only cosmetics labeling and packaging and grandfathers Prop 65. That would mean existing products already complying with Prop 65 in California would continue to do so, but future products would follow whatever federal regs are devised. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), author of a national uniformity amendment in the Senate bill, insisted on total pre-emption for cosmetics, meaning Prop 65 would be pre-empted by the new federal regs. Reform supporters are determined to enact a bill by the end of September when the popular Prescription Drug User Fee Act expires. Bill sponsors have been trying to work out agreements ahead of time to guarantee quick action on the floor, but meeting the September 30 deadline will be difficult. As of Labor Day, floor action had not been scheduled in the Senate and the House Commerce Committee had not reported out its bill.

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