In the latest development on the issues surrounding Bisphenol-A in consumer products, the FDA announced that a subcommittee of the FDA’s Science Board will hold a public meeting on the topic of BPA in plastics, review an Agency Task Force report on the topic, and deliver its findings to the Board’s annual meeting this fall. Dr. Frank Torti, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner and chief scientist, has asked Science Board Chairwoman Barbara McNeil, head of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, to establish a subcommittee to further assess BPA. (MassTortDefense has posted about BPA here and here.)

BPA is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics in turn have many important applications, including use in certain food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices. Polycarbonate plastic can also be blended with other materials to create molded parts for use in mobile phone housings, household items, and automobiles. Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some polymers used in dental sealants or composites contain bisphenol A-derived materials.

This development comes on the heels of the FDA forming an agency-wide BPA Task Force to facilitate review of current research and new information on BPA. That Task Force is reportedly assembling an inventory of FDA-regulated products that contain BPA. Eventually, the Task Force may make recommendations to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

In April 2008, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the National Institutes of Health published a draft report indicating that some studies in animals suggest that BPA may raise “some concern” about potential developmental effects in humans. The NTP is still collecting public comments on the draft and has scheduled a June 11 peer review meeting for the draft.

In mid-May, FDA officials assured a congressional panel that the agency had no reason to recommend that consumers stop using products containing BPA, noting that a large body of evidence indicates that currently marketed products containing BPA, such as baby bottles and food containers, are safe and that exposure levels to BPA from these products are well below those that may cause health effects. See our post on the hearing.

Of course, the litigation has already begun, notwithstanding the science, with a proposed class action filed over the use of BPA in baby bottles in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.