NEW YORK — They’re not cosmetics and they’re not drugs. Rather, they’re cosmeceuticals and they’re “in regulatory limbo,” dermatologist Albert Kligman told an audience during a luncheon at Health & Beauty America’s first midyear conference in April.

HBA, which is known for its annual Global Expo in the fall, launched the midyear conference believing that there’s enough activity in cosmetics research and development to draw a supporting crowd. HBA hopes to make the conference an annual event.

The midyear conference was, in fact, two concurrent conferences in one: The High Performance Ingredients & Emerging Technology Conference and the International Prestige Packaging & Design Conference. Combined, the shows attracted approximately 250 research and development, packaging and marketing executives from major cosmetics manufacturers and retailers.

The issues Kligman raised in his speech set the stage for other speeches at HBA, some of which were highly technical sessions on cutting-edge skin care formulations. Such issues are now considered more salient today than ever, considering how rapid advancements in skin care formulation are taking place. These include the discovery and bioengineering of proteins said to stimulate certain skin activities and new findings about just how effective an antioxidant autumn olive berry is compared with the tassels that grow from the top of corn.

“The FDA is still hanging on to the old idea of cosmetics on the one side and drugs on the other — which is not only irrelevant but a put-down,” Kligman continued. “It fails to recognize what some cosmetics are able to do.”

Kligman was referring to the FDA’s 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which governs topical agents and divides them into two classifications: drugs and cosmetics.

While the thought that drugs are intended “to treat and prevent disease” and cosmetics are “only for ornamentation or improving appearance” may have been rational in the Thirties, it’s “archaic” today, Kligman remarked.

His comments sparked buzz on this and other issues during the conference, which was held at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel on April 22 and 23. Other topics included the basic, day-to-day research performed by cosmetics manufacturers, a process that yields “fundamental contributions” toward product advancement.

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