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Dr Marie Sartain
/ Categories: APhA News

Benzoyl peroxide acne products contain high levels of carcinogen, warns independent lab

High levels of the human carcinogen benzene can form in some acne treatment products containing benzoyl peroxide, according to a new report from the independent quality assurance laboratory Valisure. The company has launched a citizen petition urging FDA to take action on these products by encouraging an investigation and market withdrawal of the affected items.

Valisure said the products, many of which can be found over-the-counter at most pharmacies, can form more than 800 times the conditionally restricted concentration limit of two parts per million for benzene. They also found high levels of benzene in the air around the incubated products, showing that benzene can leak out of some packages and potentially cause an inhalation risk.

Specific acne treatment brands the company tested include ProActiv, PanOxyl, CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, CVS Health’s brand, and Walgreens’ brand, among others.

“This discovery of benzoyl peroxide’s fundamental instability and formation of benzene is substantially different than Valisure’s previous findings of benzene in sunscreens, hand sanitizers, and other consumer products,” said David Light, Valisure’s cofounder and president in a news release. “The benzene we found in sunscreens and other consumer products were impurities that came from contaminated ingredients. However, the benzene in benzoyl peroxide products is coming from the benzoyl peroxide itself, sometimes at hundreds of times the conditional FDA limit. This means the problem broadly affects benzoyl peroxide products, both prescription and over-the-counter, and necessitates urgent action.”

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