By Sheryl Lindros Dolan and Heather F. Collins, M.S.
On September 29, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of two final test method Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobials against spores of Clostridium difficile (C. diff):
EPA also released regulatory guidance for test criteria and pesticide claims for these products, specifically “Methods and Guidance for Testing the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Products Against Spores of Clostridium difficile on Hard Non-Porous Surfaces.” EPA states that these test methods and guidance “provide a framework for registrants who seek to make a claim for antimicrobial pesticide products to control C. difficile spores on hard, non-porous surfaces.”
C. diff is an anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium and a frequent cause of hospital-acquired infections. The spores survive on hard surfaces such as glass, metals, and plastics that are commonly found in health-care settings. Hospitals and other health care facilities often use antimicrobial pesticides to reduce the number of spores on environmental surfaces. Registrants seeking antimicrobial product registrations with claims to control C. diff will need to carefully review these documents as they consider the efficacy data that EPA will likely require to support these claims, as well as the claims that can be made and supported for these products.
EPA MLB SOP MB-28 describes the test methodology for producing and storing standardized spore suspensions of C. diff based on ASTM E2839, Standard Test Method for Production of C. difficile Spores for Use in Efficacy Evaluation of Antimicrobial Agents (ASTM International). A spore suspension should be developed and qualified according to EPA MLB SOP MB-28 before an efficacy evaluation can be performed using method EPA MLB SOP MB-31. EPA MLB SOP MB-31 describes a quantitative method intended for evaluating the sporicidal efficacy of liquid disinfectants against spores of C. diff on inanimate, hard, non-porous surfaces.
EPA solicited comments on the clarity of the test method SOPs and the regulatory guidance in December 2016. EPA received comments from 12 entities. The primary areas of comment included the following:
- Test carrier interaction;
- Additional method validation;
- Verification testing;
- Soil load;
- Use of a standard setting organization to publish test methods;
- Proposed revisions to the guidance document; and
- Proposed revisions to the standard operating procedures.
EPA revised the drafts to incorporate suggested changes. EPA posted its response to those comments in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0753-0026.
Some of the changes to the guidance document based on submitted comments include clarifying:
- Three batches of test product should be tested on independent test days;
- The inclusion of the three-part soil load is used for all test, control, and test system control carriers; and
- The current document supersedes the previous 2014 guidance document.
The new guidance proposes updated standard label claims and special instructions that are intended to provide greater clarity to the user community.
EPA’s response to comments and other documents associated with this action are available in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0753 at www.regulations.gov. The methods and guidance also are found on EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Methods & Procedures Developed by EPA's Microbiology Laboratory webpage, at the Methods tab as Method IDs MB-28 and MB-31, and at the Guidance tab as Sporicidal Claims Against Clostridium difficile.
C. diff is widely recognized as one of the most common causes of healthcare-acquired infection. C. diff infections, spread by transmission of bacterial spores, have proven difficult to prevent. EPA’s new guidance and test methods are intended to clarify the efficacy standards that pesticide products claiming to reduce C. diff spores must meet, as well as the associated claims that can be made. This guidance should bring more clarity to pesticide registrants seeking to register such products and to healthcare facilities in their identification of registered pesticide products that may help them to reduce C. diff spores and thus help with prevention efforts.
By Sheryl L. Dolan and Margaret R. Graham
On August 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of two final test method Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial pesticides against two biofilm bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus):
EPA also released regulatory guidance for test criteria and pesticide claims for these products, specifically Guidance for Testing the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Products Against Biofilms on Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces. Drafts of the SOPs and the guidance were initially released in October 2016 for comment. EPA received comments from nine entities and revised the drafts to incorporate suggested changes. EPA posted its response to those comments in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0357.
EPA states that the two methods are adapted from ASTM International (ASTM) standard methods. EPA MLB SOP MB-19 is used to generate the P. aeruginosa or S. aureus biofilm on coupons. EPA MLB SOP MB-20, the Single Tube Method, then is used to determine the effectiveness of an antimicrobial product in reducing bacteria in biofilm on the coupons.
Notable aspects of the test criteria and claims guidelines include:
- The mean log density for the test organisms of 8.0 to 9.5 for P. aeruginosa and 7.5 to 9.0 for S. aureus; and
- Product performance criterion of a minimum 6-log reduction.
The guidance lists several examples of claims for efficacy against public health biofilm that EPA states are acceptable.
EPA MLB SOP MB-20 is designed to evaluate the efficacy of antimicrobial products that are water soluble powders or liquid formulations. If a company wishes to test a different type of product formulation, or test different target microorganisms, or make any other proposed modifications, it would be well advised to submit proposed alternatives to EPA for review and approval. EPA specifically cautions that the current methodologies are intended for data development to support claims for products registered for use on hard, non-porous surfaces and are not suitable for use sites associated with water systems.
The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs’ (OPP) regulation of biofilms has been the subject of increasingly intense commercial interest for years and the availability of this testing guidance is welcome news. While not all will agree with the approach, the new guidance is a helpful addition to OPP’s testing guidance portfolio.
More information on antimicrobial pesticides is available on our blog under key phrase Antimicrobial Pesticide. More information on the methods and guidance is available on EPA’s website and in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0357.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Sheryl Lindros Dolan, and Margaret R. Graham
On February 17, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance revising its recommendation regarding controlling Candida auris (C. auris) infections in U.S. healthcare facilities. The CDC guidance now recommends a “thorough daily and terminal cleaning and disinfection” of patient rooms in which C. auris infection or colonization was present … with the use of an [EPA]-registered hospital-grade disinfectant effective against Clostridium difficile [(C. difficile)] spores.” The new guidance updates the CDC’s clinical alert on C. auris issued in June 2016 after receiving reports from international healthcare facilities that C. auris, “an emerging multidrug-resistant (MDR) yeast, [was] causing invasive healthcare-associated infections with high mortality.” Previously, CDC recommended use of an EPA-registered disinfectant with a fungal efficacy claim.
As EPA is responsible for regulating hospital disinfectants and other antimicrobial pesticides used in healthcare facilities, this updated guidance has particular interest and significance for registrants of hospital disinfectant products. EPA maintains a list of registered antimicrobial products effective against C. difficile (List K) and states that “Guidance to the companies that register antimicrobial products and seek label claims against C. auris is under development.”
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Margaret R. Graham
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced the availability of two proposed test methods and associated testing guidance for evaluating antimicrobial pesticides against two biofilm bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, for comments. EPA states that registrants of antimicrobial products with public health claims are “required to submit efficacy data to EPA in support of the product’s registration” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA is soliciting comments on the clarity of the standard operating procedures and the regulatory guidance. The two test methods are:
The Draft Guidance to Assess the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Pesticide Products Intended to Control Public Health Biofilms on Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces describes biofilms and their public health significance; the two test procedures for developing efficacy data supporting biofilm claims; products that may be eligible for biofilm claims; test criteria; data submission procedures for efficacy data; and labeling guidance.
The draft guidance states that the term biofilm “is reserved for claims against biofilm that contain specific bacteria that are directly or indirectly infectious or pathogenic to humans,” and “biofilm claims are considered to be public health claims for which the agency must review and approve appropriate efficacy data.” EPA states: “Examples of use sites that may be supported by the biofilm test methodologies herein, and found acceptable, include restrooms, shower stalls, sink basins or drains (excluding the drain pipe) and nearby hard, non-porous surfaces of walls, countertops, and instrument trays in patient care areas of hospitals. In contrast, claims against non-public health slimicides must also be supported by appropriate efficacy data, however, submission of the data is only required when requested by the EPA.”
The Draft Guidance also sets forth examples of acceptable label claims against public health biofilms and acceptable non-public health claims. The examples of acceptable label claims against public health biofilms are:
- Kills 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm on a hard, non-porous surface;
- Kills a minimum of 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm;
- Reduces at least 99.9999% of bacteria* growing in biofilm;
- Formulated to kill 99.9999% of bacteria* in biofilm;
- Other related claims:
- Kills biofilm bacteria*; and
- Penetrates biofilm, killing the bacteria* living there.
*[List of bacteria “tested as a biofilm”; at a minimum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus].
Examples of acceptable non-public health claims supported by appropriate efficacy data include:
- Cleans away microorganism slime/grunge;
- Maintains control of slime; and
- Controls slime-forming microorganisms.
Comments will be accepted until December 5, 2016.
By Zameer Qureshi
The fourth Biocides Stakeholders’ Day took place on September 1, 2016, at the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. The event provided biocides stakeholders with information on the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) and the tools and support available. The focus was on experiences from companies, ECHA, and the European Commission (EC). ECHA stated “[t]he objective was to equip companies with information about their roles and obligations to meet the legal requirements for biocides.”
The program for the event included three plenary sessions. Plenary Session 1, “Challenges and Opportunities,” was commenced by ECHA’s Executive Director, Geert Dancet. Topics discussed in Plenary Session 1 included a “[r]egulatory update from the [EC],” “[a]ctivities in 2016,” and “Union [Authorization] in Practice.” Plenary Session 2 focused on “IT Tools and Dossier Preparation,” and included discussions on IUCLID 6 and R4BP 3. IUCLID 6 is used to collect, organize, and store data on active substances and biocidal products. Dossiers generated through IUCLID 6 are submitted to ECHA and national authorities through R4BP 3, “the central hub through which all biocides applications are made.” Plenary Session 3 on the “Enforcement of Biocidal Products” consisted of discussions on enforcement by the EC and Member States, and closed with a case study on “Enforcement from an Industry Perspective.”
The Plenary Sessions were followed by Questions and Answers, closing remarks from Jack De Bruun, ECHA’s Director of Risk Management, and an opportunity for attendees to meet the ECHA staff.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and Timothy D. Backstrom
On September 19, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report, EPA Needs a Risk-Based Strategy to Assure Continued Effectiveness of Hospital-Level Disinfectants, the result of OIG’s review of EPA’s Antimicrobial Testing Program (ATP) to “determine whether the program ensures the efficacy of EPA-registered hospital sterilants, disinfectants, and tuberculocides (“hospital-level disinfectants”); and to evaluate options for improving the ATP.” OIG found that the ATP “does not assure that hospital-level disinfectant products continue to be effective after they are registered,” specifically that:
- Once the EPA tests a product and it passes, it is listed as Agency Confirmed Efficacy on the agency’s website and is typically not tested again; the long-term efficacy of the product cannot be assured.
- EPA relies on manufacturers to voluntarily submit product samples for testing. In the last three years, out of the approximately 300 registered hospital disinfectant products that have not been tested, manufacturers submitted only 12 samples to EPA for ATP efficacy testing.
Importantly, however, OIG concludes: “Although the program as currently designed and conducted does not assure that most hospital disinfectant products continue to be effective, at this point it is redundant and unnecessary to make adjustments, since the EPA is concurrently having the products re-registered.”
OIG makes two major recommendations:
- EPA should suspend administering the current Antimicrobial Testing Program until completion of the one-time re-registration process.
- EPA should develop a risk-based antimicrobial testing strategy to assure the effectiveness of public health pesticides used in hospital settings once products are in the marketplace. At a minimum, OIG states, the strategy should:
- Include a framework for periodic testing to assure products continue to be effective after registration.
- Define a program scope that is flexible and responsive to current and relevant public health risks.
- Identify risk factors for selecting products to test.
- Identify the method to be used for obtaining samples for testing.
- Designate a date to commence risk-based post-registration testing.
In its response, EPA agreed with OIG’s recommendations, and stated it will develop a plan to coordinate and implement the discontinuation of the present-day program, with the closure of the ATP program to take place by November 2017. EPA also stated that by December 2018 it plans to develop a risk-based strategy to assure the effectiveness of public health pesticides used in hospital settings once products are in the marketplace.
Registrants of the affected products should monitor closely the development of EPA’s plans both to discontinue the program and to establish this new risk-based strategy for assuring product efficacy.
By Lisa R. Burchi and Margaret R. Graham
On September 2, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance to registrants on the process for making claims against emerging viral pathogens not on EPA-registered disinfectant labels (Guidance). A draft of this guidance was issued in April 2016 and comments were sought at that time. More information concerning the draft guidance is available in our blog item EPA Combats Emerging Pathogens Through Updating Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticide Products.
The current Guidance document, which EPA states “provides general guidance to registrants that can be used to identify effective disinfectant products for use against emerging viral pathogens and to permit registrants to make limited claims of their product’s efficacy against such pathogens,” includes changes incorporated following EPA’s review of the three public comments received in response to that draft.
The Guidance retains the voluntary two-stage process, but amends the first stage as indicated:
- In the first stage, which may be performed prior to any outbreak, registrants with an eligible disinfectant product may submit a request, via label amendment or during the registration of a new product, to control a specific emerging viral pathogen to add a designated statement to the master label and additional terms to the product registration. If the product meets the eligibility criteria suggested in this Guidance, [EPA] generally will approve the amendment. Approval of the amendment would include additional terms and conditions of registration regarding how the designated statement may be published and communicated.
In its response to comments document, EPA responded to several comments, including:
- Changes were made to EPA’s mandated non-label statements to remove certain language that could be considered redundant.
- EPA is developing a coordinated process with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the purpose of providing a more standardized and consistent approach to emerging viral pathogen outbreaks. Once this process is established, the agency expects to consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a similar approach.
- The Guidance document allows for the addition of emerging pathogen claim language to the master label during the new product registration process if the product is eligible. Additional language has been added to multiple locations in the Guidance document to clarify that the process is appropriate for new product registrations.
- EPA “may consider allowing use of additional modes of claim communication under future versions of this Guidance document, however, hangtags and other promotional materials are not authorized at this time. Because the statements authorized under this Guidance are pesticidal claims that do not meet the FIFRA registration criteria, it is essential that these off-label claims are not made outside of an emerging pathogen outbreak as described in the Guidance. Accordingly, the Guidance limits these off-label claims primarily to communications outlets that are wholly within the registrant’s control (800 numbers, social media and websites) from which the off-label claims can be immediately removed. Hangtags and other promotional materials directed towards general consumers are largely out of the registrant’s control once the products enter the chain of commerce, and may persist long after the period during which the off-label claims are authorized.”
EPA also notes that this Guidance document “provides general guidance to EPA, pesticide registrants, applicants for pesticide registrations, and the public. This guidance is not binding on EPA or any outside parties, and EPA may depart from the guidance where circumstances warrant and without prior notice.”
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
In response to the increasing concerns regarding emerging viral pathogens that are not on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant labels, EPA announced on April 7, 2016, that it was updating its Guidance regarding emerging viral pathogens. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is authorized to evaluate the efficacy of antimicrobial products intended to control pathogens that can be detrimental to public health. Many believe that the process under which registrants can identify “effective disinfectant products for use against emerging pathogens,” and the process for EPA to “permit registrants to make limited claims of their product’s efficacy against such pathogens,” have not been clear and efficient. EPA notes, for example, that “[emerging] pathogens are often unavailable commercially, and standard methods for laboratory testing may not have been developed,” such that it “can be difficult to assess the efficacy of EPA-registered disinfectants against such pathogens in a timely manner and to add these viruses to existing product registrations.”
EPA hopes that its Guidance will “expedite the process for registrants to provide useful information to the public” regarding products that may be effective against emerging viral pathogens associated with certain human or animal disease outbreaks.
EPA’s new draft Guidance document, Draft Guidance to Registrants: Process for Making Claims Against Emerging Viral Pathogens Not on EPA-Registered Disinfectant Labels, describes “a voluntary two-stage process to enable the use of certain EPA-registered disinfectant products against these emerging viral pathogens, uses not previously identified on the product label”:
- First Stage: This stage may be performed prior to any outbreak. EPA summarizes the first stage as follows: “registrants with an eligible disinfectant product may submit a request, via label amendment, to add a designated statement to the master label and additional terms to the product registration. If the product meets the eligibility criteria suggested in this Guidance, [EPA] generally will approve the amendment. Approval of the amendment would include additional terms and conditions of registration regarding how the designated statement may be published and communicated.”
- Second Stage: This stage would occur only during a human or animal disease outbreak caused by an emerging virus. EPA summarizes this stage as follows: “In this stage, registrants of products with the previously mentioned label amendment and terms of registration would be allowed to use the designated statement in off-label communications intended to inform the user community/public that the disinfectant product(s) may be used against the specific emerging viral pathogen. These off-label statements can inform the public about the utility of these products against the emerging pathogen in the most expeditious manner and can be more easily removed once the outbreak has ended than statements on a label.”
Comments related to clarity of this Guidance will be accepted until May 6, 2016. For more information, please see our memorandum EPA Announces Updated Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticide Products Intended to Combat Emerging Pathogens.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 16, 2016, the European Commission (EC) issued its final report on the sustainable use of biocides. Article 18 of the European Union’s (EU) biocidal products regulation (BPR) directs the EC to issue a report on how the BPR contributes to the sustainable use of biocidal products, and on whether there is a need to introduce additional measures, in particular for professional users, to reduce the risks posed to human health, animal health, and the environment by biocidal products. Sustainable use for biocidal products is defined in the report as “the objective of reducing the risks and impacts of the use of biocidal products on human health, animal health and the environment and of promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to biocidal products.”
Significantly, the EC’s report does not recommend the creation of further regulations, stating that the “risks posed to human health, animal health and the environment by biocidal products … are already appropriately addressed by measures imposed through the conditions of approval of active substances or the authorisation of biocidal products.” The EC also declined to extend the scope of the Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (Directive 2009/128/EC) to biocidal products, stating: “due to the very diverse nature of biocidal products and the variety of applications, it does not seem appropriate to simply extend the scope of the Framework Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides to biocidal products.”
Instead, the EC states that the “first and main priority” of EU Member States and industry must be “the completion of the on-going assessment of all the active substances that were already on the market when the BPD entered into force and the authorisation of biocidal products containing these active substances … with a view to promoting the sustainable use of biocidal products.” Further, Member States also should focus on the “need to invest additional resources on enforcement activities to ensure that no product is illegally placed on their market and that biocidal products are properly labelled.”
The EC’s report concludes by listing the following actions that it intends to pursue, and invites Member States to collaborate with the EC to do the same:
- Focus and strengthen efforts on the review programme of existing active substances to ensure it is completed at the latest by 2024;
- Ensure that once active substances are approved, product authorisations are granted, amended, or cancelled within 3 years;
- Invest additional resources on enforcement activities;
- Benefit from the legislative tools available, in particular by closely following the developments of best available techniques reference documents (BREF) that can be relevant for biocidal products used in industrial processes;
- Encourage communication and awareness raising campaigns to inform end users, through websites, in-store leaflets or videos, quick response codes on biocidal products, etc.;
- Encourage the development and implementation of standards (e.g., under the European Committee for Standardization), that could contribute to the sustainable use of biocidal products; and
- Welcome research initiatives on the sustainable use of biocides and alternatives to biocidal products.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On February 10, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was initiating an external peer review of the updated draft protocol for testing the antimicrobial efficacy of copper-containing surface products. The products in question are hard surface copper-containing surface products such as door handles, light switch panels, and bed rails, which are utilized for their antimicrobial characteristics. EPA states that “the testing described in this draft protocol is designed to support registration of copper-containing surface products (such as door knobs or other items that are not intended for food contact) that bear sanitizer claims.” Numerous changes have been made to the draft, including changes to the test microbes, culture preparation, quality control process, and product characterization. Following completion of the review, EPA states that it will evaluate the findings and revise the draft as appropriate prior to posting the final protocol.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA evaluates the efficacy of antimicrobial products intended to control pathogens that can be detrimental to public health. EPA indicates that antimicrobial efficacy testing of copper-containing surface products poses challenges because of the prolonged product life span, the likelihood that cleaning and disinfecting agents would be used on the surfaces, and the wide variation in potential product forms and use patterns. EPA states the following regarding the protocols and how they will affect the test results:
- This protocol is designed to address these issues by including a product characterization component that challenges the product’s physical durability and chemical stability when used as proposed;
- The efficacy assessment component of the protocol involves evaluation of the performance of two product manufacturing lots against two pathogenic microorganisms -- Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and
- The efficacy test results, in combination with the product durability/stability component, will be used to determine the sanitizing activity of the copper-containing surface.
More information is available on EPA’s Antimicrobial Pesticide Registration website. Information regarding other antimicrobial pesticide issues is available in our blog items EPA Posts Revised Antimicrobial Pesticides Use Site Index and EPA Releases Guidance Document: Antimicrobial Pesticides Use Site Index.
Products that are intended to have pesticidal efficacy over a protracted period require testing that differs materially from those pesticides that are only effective for a transient period and, thus, must be used repeatedly. Some believe copper-containing surfaces have great promise as antimicrobial sanitizers, particularly in health care environments where limiting patient exposure to potential pathogens has become a critical institutional concern. EPA’s enhanced test protocols are intended to address questions EPA and others have raised concerning the continued efficacy of a copper-containing surface over a prolonged life span, and the potential impact of cleaning and disinfecting agents.