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KFDA plans ban on stem cell-derived cosmetics

Mar 21,2009

The Korea Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it has proposed a ban on the use of any material originating from human stem cells or organs in cosmetics, citing risk of infection.

The new regulations would remove from store shelves cosmetics developed by local firms that are made from stem cells derived from human fat. The agency will study public opinion of the proposed revisions starting April 13 and will make a final decision on whether to implement them as early as July. The health watchdog said raw materials extracted from human cells or organs could spread HIV or hepatitis viruses.

The Kosdaq-listed RNL Bio released high-priced cosmetics at the end of last year that it claims drastically improve skin moisture and elasticity. One ampule contains 1 million stem cells, says the firm, which became famous after successfully cloning two beagle puppies from stem cells derived from fat cells last year. But the cosmetics have not been formally tested for safety by the KFDA.

The health authority said it decided on the ban after consulting with cosmetics experts and referring to related regulations overseas. Europe forbids the use of any material derived from the human body in cosmetics.

Another 59 substances including phenol and benzopyrene, a carcinogen, were recently included on the list of banned cosmetics ingredients.

But whether the government will effectively enforce the ban is unclear. Human placentas are already prohibited for use in cosmetics, but a number of Korean importers are illegally selling “placenta cosmetics” on the black market or over the Web.

A high-ranking official with the KFDA said the agency will continue to clamp down on such illegal activities. But entering the term “placenta cosmetics” into search engines still comes up with dozens of stores selling the banned products.


By Seo Ji-eun Staff Reporter[spring@joongang.co.kr]






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