THIS CHAPTER COMPARES European and American regulatory policies toward several additional non-food-related health and safety product risks, namely those posed by pharmaceuticals, and chemicals in children’s toys and cosmetics. In contrast to many of the other policy areas examined in this book, two of the three cases examined in this chapter show that European and American risk regulations have converged, though the dynamics through which this occurred differed substantially.
Pharmaceutical regulation constitutes the most important exception to the broader pattern of increased transatlantic regulatory policy divergence. What makes this area of regulatory policy distinctive is that its political salience—or public pressures on policy makers to change how risk regulations were being made—increased in the United States but not in Europe. The demands of activist groups in the United States led to changes in American regulations in ways that brought them into closer alignment with those of the European Union, whose regulatory policies remained relatively stable even after they were harmonized. Pharmaceutical regulation also represents an important exception to the dominant pattern of transatlantic regulatory policy diffusion. In this unusual case, European regulatory policies did affect those of the United States, first by highlighting the transatlantic “drug lag,” and more recently by American decisions to adopt some European practices to expedite drug approvals.
The regulation of phthalate softeners in children’s products also converged in the EU and the United States, though with a substantial time lag. By contrast, cosmetics safety regulation demonstrates increased transatlantic policy divergence. While there has been no statutory change in American regulations for several decades, the European Union has progressively tightened and strengthened its safety standards for cosmetics. Many substances permitted in cosmetics sold in the United States are now banned in the European Union.
The modern era of drug regulation on both sides of the Atlantic dates from the 1960s and is associated with the political fallout from the