Congress deals with sunscreen safety controversy

New bill would put pressure on FDA to lift hold on new chemicals


MIAMI – Lobbyists for manufacturers of over-the-counter sunscreens and some public health advocates were pushing lawmakers to pass a new bill that would put pressure on allowing the use of new chemicals before the end of the summer.

The Sunscreen Innovation Act is meant to amend a bill that establishes the products' review process. The Melanoma Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the Skin Cancer Foundation were in support of the bill.

The chemical sunscreen controversy comes as Surgeon General Boris Lushniak released a call to action Tuesday. He warned that nearly 5 million are treated for skin cancer annually, and this was costing the country about $8.1 billion.

"Despite efforts to address skin cancer risk factors, such as inadequate sun protection and intentional tanning behaviors, skin cancer rates" have continued to increase, Lushniak.

Congress was set to vote on the bill, which would require the Food and Drug Administration to expedite review of new sunscreen ingredients. The Senate was set to vote in September. 

Some of the companies interested in passing the bill were L'Oreal USA Products,  Procter & Gamble, Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic, Suncare Research Laboratories, and DeWolf Chemical.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Working Group has issued several reports about FDA-approved ingredients that disrupt the hormone system, alter reproductive development and other toxicity concerns.

If the bill passes, the FDA would have about 11 months to issue a decision on eight ingredients that are on hold.