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Levels of Benzene Detected in Acne Treatments from Leading Brands, Prompting FDA Petition

New Haven, March 06, 2024, The Europe Today: Independent U.S. laboratory Valisure revealed alarming levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene in various acne treatments, including products from Estee Lauder’s Clinique, Target’s Up & Up, and Clearasil owned by Reckitt Benckiser. The findings have prompted Valisure to file a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging the regulator to recall the implicated products, conduct a thorough investigation, and revise industry guidance.

Shares of Estee Lauder dropped 2% following the disclosure. Valisure’s extensive testing also identified benzene in other brands such as Proactiv, PanOxyl, Walgreens’ acne soap bar, and Walmart’s Equate Beauty acne cream.

Valisure emphasized that benzene could form at “unacceptably high levels” in both prescription and over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide acne treatment products. In response, Reckitt stated that the findings “reflect unrealistic scenarios rather than real-world conditions,” assuring the safety of all Clearasil products when used according to their labels.

Estee Lauder clarified that Clinique employs benzoyl peroxide in one product, asserting its safety for intended use. Target and Walmart have yet to respond to Reuters’ requests for comments, while the FDA is yet to address Valisure’s petition.

The carcinogenic presence of benzene in various consumer products, including sunscreens, hand sanitizers, and dry shampoo, has previously led to recalls by major companies such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. Valisure noted that the detection of benzene in acne treatment products is “substantially different” from previous cases, as it originates directly from benzoyl peroxide itself, not from contaminated ingredients.

Valisure’s tests revealed that certain products could form benzene at levels exceeding 800 times the conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit, raising serious concerns about the safety and regulatory oversight in the production of these widely-used acne treatments.