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Bill empowering FDA on sunscreen ingredients gets House panel nod.

Thursday, July 17th, 2014


The FDA has been very slow in approving new sunscreen ingredients and in informing the public the importance of wearing on a daily basis a sunscreen that blocks UVA. They did, as of 1 and a half years ago, require sunscreen makers to label whether they block UVA, the rays that cause skin cancer and age the skin. These are present all day, everywhere and year around. Manufacturers, however, still insist on stressing SPF, a measure of how well the sunscreen blocks UVB, the rays that cause sunburn. These are present mainly down south mid day in the summer. SPF, therefore, only tells you if you are protected from sunburn, not whether you are protected from UVA, the aging rays. Of the 2, UVA is the most important.

The Hill (7/16, Al-faruque) reports that a House panel Tuesday “approved by voice vote a bill that would require” the FDA to quickly decide “whether to approve new sunscreen products available outside” the US. The article notes the Sunscreen Innovation Act would require the FDA to take decisions on sunscreen ingredients, “some of which have been waiting on approval for a decade.”
The National Journal (7/16, Subscription Publication) provides details of the legislation, noting the Act “would institute a timeline for review, and would no longer require the FDA to issue a regulation every time it wants to approve an ingredient.” The bill “requires final decisions on pending applications within one year, and decisions on new applications within one and a half.” The piece notes that new superior ingredients in sunscreens have been awaiting a decision from the FDA for at least 12 years, “with the last” OTC “sunscreen ingredient approved by the agency in the 1990s.”

The question is, will the FDA quit waffling and really assess these ingredients on whether and how well they block UVA and whether they will demand that the amount of UVA protection is also posted.