Strict regulations may endanger innovation

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Product, European union, Chris flower

New classes of cosmetics products can prove challenging for
regulators but it is important that regulation does not starve
innovation, says an industry expert.

Although regulation is paramount to ensure consumer safety, the industry needs to take care that it does not starve innovation, says Chris Flower head of the UK cosmetics and perfumery association CTPA. Industry innovation is constantly generating new products, the safety of which must be ensured before they reach consumers. However, certain products appear to straddle a boundary between cosmetics and medicines making their classification and subsequent regulation challenging. Recent examples include the Jan Marini eyelash conditioning products that have been removed from the US market. Regulation should not starve innovation ​ According to Flower there is a risk in this area that a product may not reach the market as the current regulation does not know how to handle it. Leaving aside companies who deliberately mis-market their products to get around legislation requirements, it would be a shame if legislation held back reputable manufacturers, said the head of the trade association. "We shouldn't use regulation to constrain innovation,"​ said Flower. "If the market wants it and the product is safe and efficacious then we should work on the regulation to see how the product can reach the EU market as either a cosmetic or a medicine."​ Flower's example is a tooth whitening product. Reputable companies with safe, efficacious products may be held back by regulation. This can lead to a proliferation of low quality products from disreputable sources that may in fact cause harm to the user, he explained. A cosmetic or a medicine, but not both ​ In the EU a product is a cosmetic or a medicine, but it cannot be both. Under the EU Cosmetics Directive the purpose of a cosmetics product is to clean, perfume, change the appearance, correct body odour, protect or to keep in good condition. If a product aims to change the physiology of the individual, or to treat, diagnose or prevent a disease, it enters into the realm of a medicine, which can make classifying certain products difficult. Blurring boundaries ​ A recent example of one such product is an eyelash enhancing product that has recently been removed from the US market. The original product, manufactured by Jan Marini Skin Research, contained an ingredient licensed for use in a glaucoma drug, the side effects of which included increased eyelash growth. The presence of this ingredient, and claims that the product could be used as a means to increase eyelash growth, brought it to the attention of the authorities who questioned whether it was a cosmetic or a medicine. The product was then removed from the US market and a reformulated product that did not contain the contentious ingredient was released. This has since been voluntarily withdrawn by the company regarding, in part, a patent infringement allegation from pharmaceutical company Allergan.

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