Congress Seeks Faster FDA Sunscreen Approvals
Senate Readying Similar Bill
Lawmakers passed legislation on Monday intended to speed up pending approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of several types of sunscreen. The Sunscreen Innovation Act, passed by the U.S. House, seeks to garner approval for sunscreen active ingredients that have been under review by the FDA for as long as a decade – and that are already available overseas. The Senate is readying a similar bill. The FDA hasn't approved a new active ingredient for sunscreen since the 1990s.
Despite the measures, Rick Carlson, vice president of promotional products with Aloe Up Sun and Skin Care Products (asi/34362), believes it would take at least 18 months for the FDA to approve new sunscreen products, and at least a couple of years before they come to market. "The FDA is always concerned with a lot of other things other than sunscreen," said Carlson, whose company manufacturers its own branded sunscreen and also has 13,000 retail customers. "Sunscreen has a lower priority [with the FDA] versus some serious drugs that are related to illnesses and diseases."
Carlson cites the FDA's deliberateness when it made a slew of changes two years ago regarding sunscreen, such as listing all ingredients, relabeling from waterproof to water resistant and mandating testing to demonstrate that marked sunscreens actually do protect people from both UV-A and UV-B rays. "The changes they made in 2012 were slow in coming – they took forever," he says.
Richard Massey, regulatory affairs manager for SnugZ/USA (asi/88060), thinks that the approval of new sunscreens will be a significant development in retail, but if they carry a premium cost, it won't sell well in the promotional product industry. "At least in my circles," Massey said, "I haven't heard a clamoring for whatever is out there that's been approved for use in Europe, Australia or somewhere else."
Cases of skin cancer have climbed 200% since 1973. While awareness about wearing sunscreen has been increased, it's still cited as the primary challenge for combatting skin cancer, instead of any perceived failures of current sunscreen products on the market. "The ingredients that are currently available seem to be doing fine for us," said Massey, whose company's skin care category grew 9-10% last year. "Our customers have not complained that our sunscreen doesn't work or that it doesn't offer the protection that's advertised."