FDA Must Act on Sunscreen Ingredients

FDA Must Act on Sunscreen Ingredients

June 2nd, 2014 // 3:35 pm @

Those feel like you’re getting sunburned quicker or more often than in years past, those people are probably right. The sun is getting stronger, but the protection offered by our sunscreens in the U.S. isn’t keeping up. It’s been 15 years since the FDA approved new ingredients for use in sunscreens. With  one person dying every hour from melanoma, experts are urging the FDA to speed up the process.

For those people who are fair-skinned, there’s no question how important sunscreen is. But it’s crucial for people with any skin type to protect against the UV rays that cause skin cancer.

“Those ultraviolet rays damage your DNA and your DNA dictates just about every function of the cell including its functions, its longevity and if it turns into skin cancer or not,” said Dr. Ramsay Farah, the Upstate Medical University Chief of Dermatology.

Sunscreen has come a long way in skin protection because of both education of how to best apply it and the new requirements for labeling sunscreens where manufacturers have to say how long they’re water resistant for.

“You’d need to apply them at least 30 minutes before you go outside. If you’re swimming or sweating heavily, you want to reapply immediately, either way, every couple of hours, you need to reply it. SPF 15 is going to block 93 percent of those rays. If you get up to SPF 30 or 50, they’ll block a little more percentage of them. But the differences between the higher SPFs are really minimal,” said Kirk Kwaczala, a Kinney Drugs Pharmacist.

But the U.S. lags behind Europe, Japan and several other countries when it comes to advances in sunscreen technology. That’s because the FDA hasn’t approved new ingredients to be used in sunscreens since 1999. There are several applications pending, some dating back to 2003.

“In the United States, they’re classified as over-the-counter medications, whereas, in Europe, they’re classified as cosmetic products, and therefore, with our classifications, the FDA really requires as extensive body of evidence. While it’s important to have a rigorous process, the process can’t become so cumbersome that essentially it breaks down,” said Farah.

Some of the pending applications include chemical filters that would offer stronger protection against the cancer-causing UVA rays and they’d also make sunscreen last longer on your skin.

Experts if the FDA doesn’t speed up this approval process, we’re going to end up paying the cost in skin-cancer related cases down the road.

Experts recommend wearing SPF clothing and wide brimmed hats and staying out of the sun during peak hours.

The Sunscreen Innovation Act has been introduced in Congress as a way to speed up the approval process for new ingredients. Experts hope the bill will be passed this year.


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