Coal Tar Lawsuit #3

This is a reprint of the third of eight documents originally published by the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) regarding the 2000-2002 lawsuit in California over coal-tar products and Prop 65.


Letter from California Attorney General Responding to NPF

First posted May 11, 2001

Robert M. Day, Ph.D.
Chairman, Board of Trustees

Gail M. Zimmerman
President & CEO

National Psoriasis Foundation
6600 SW 92nd Avenue, Suite 300
Portland, OR 97223-7195

Dear Dr. Day and Ms Zimmerman:

Thank you for your letter of March 26, 2001, on behalf of the National Psoriasis Foundation concerning the use of coal tar containing products for the treatment of psoriasis. I appreciate the information you provided. Your primary concern is to insure that people with psoriasis continue to receive effective treatments, including treatments containing coal tar.

There are several points that I would like to clarify. First, as you know, Proposition 65 does not prohibit the sale of any coal tar products, and my office has not demanded that companies cease selling the products. The issue is simply one of providing the legally required warning. It is my understanding that a number of the coal tar psoriasis creams already contain a Proposition 65 warning and have done so for many years. It appears that their compliance with Proposition 65 has in no way impeded the ability of psoriasis sufferers to purchase and use these creams if they choose to do so.

While certain companies making products intended to treat dandruff may conclude that it is preferable to reduce the concentration of coal tar in those products rather than provide a warning, this is not required under Proposition 65 and would be their choice, based on their prediction of how purchasers of their products will react to the warning language.

Regarding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision on the citizen petition filed by Mr. Gottesfeld, please be aware that my Office did not participate in the filing of that petition and did not seek to restrict the sale of coal tar products to prescription only. The FDA determination is made according to a separate set of legal standards under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, and has no relationship to California’s Proposition 65 and it’s [sic] standards and requirements.

The only evidence submitted has concerned coal tar shampoo products which, unlike ointments, remain on the skin for brief period of time and are washed off. Thus, under California law, there is no dispute that the companies selling the coal tar ointments in this state are required to provide the warning.

Again, thank you for the information you have provided us. If we can be of any assistance in explaining our position or the issues in the litigation, we will be glad to do so. If you have further questions or comments, please feel free to call Deputy Attorney General Susan Fiering at telephone number (xxx) xxx-xxxx.


Bill Lockyer
Attorney General

This document was reprinted with the permission of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The original can still be found in the Internet Archive.

Coal tar lawsuit documents

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