ERJ staff report (DS)
Washington DC -- US consumer organisation Public Citizen (PC) has called for a ban on all surgical and exam gloves made from natural rubber latex and lubricated with cornstarch. The organisation filed a petition with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late on Monday this week.
The organisation said in a 26 April statement, "Surgical and patient examination gloves that have cornstarch powder on them or are made of natural rubber latex should be banned because of the serious threat they pose to patients and health care workers,"
This is the second time Public Citizen has petitioned the agency to ban the use of cornstarch powder in latex gloves. The first time was on Jan. 7, 1998. The next year, the FDA rejected the petition and, instead, proposed regulations to reclassify surgical and patient examination gloves as class II devices requiring special controls, such as warning labels - an inadequate response to such a serious health problem.
PC said in its most recent petition that health care workers are at risk due to allergic reactions to latex, some of which can be serious or life-threatening. The group added, "For patients, the danger is also grave. Patients can experience the same types of allergic reactions that occur in health care workers. Also, when cornstarch is deposited in tissues during surgery, it can promote infections, delay healing and cause inflammation, among other injuries."
â€œThe FDA's prolonged failure to take action eliminating the dangers posed by powdered surgical and patient examination gloves demonstrates a reckless and inexcusable disregard for the health and safety of patients and health care workers,â€ said Dr. Michael Carome, deputy director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group. â€œThe dangers posed by powdered surgical and patient examination gloves and all latex gloves have been widely recognised throughout the medical profession and the world for many years and are indisputable. Safer, equally effective substitutes are available.â€
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Press release from Public Citizen