March 10, 216 — Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-New Jersey) is demanding answers from the FDA and the manufacturer of WEN hair care products after more than 17,000 customers complained about hair loss.
In a letter (PDF) to the CEO Guthy-Renker, Pallone requested a briefing to discuss the complaints. He also asked for relevant documents, including safety tests and customer complaints.
Pallone also sent a letter (PDF) to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, asking what the agency has done to address thousands of complaints about side effects, such as:
- Significant hair loss
- Visible bald spots
- Hair breakage
- Scalp irritation
- Burning of the scalps and eyes
Guthy-Renker is facing class action lawsuits from 200 consumers who say the popular WEN Cleansing Conditioner hair-care product causes baldness. Lawyers say the company secretly conducted safety tests, but did not disclose the results of those tests to the FDA or the public.
Angry consumers are demanding to see the test results, but federal law does not require cosmetics-makers to tell the FDA about complaints or safety studies. According to Pallone:
“Unfortunately, since popular cosmetics and personal care products are largely unregulated before they reach the marketplace, these products can contain harmful chemicals that have the potential to put consumers at risk.”
Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have also proposed new laws that would require cosmetics-makers to disclose ingredients, report adverse events, and disclose results of studies showing potential health risks. The law would also require the FDA to investigate five ingredients per year and restrict dangerous products.