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FDA examining new rules and studies regarding sunscreen safety

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The tremendous increase in sunscreen use over the last generation has created a need to reevaluate the safety of its ingredients. So Congress was told by an official of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, April 7.

Janet Woodcock, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, testified before the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health that when the FDA first evaluated ingredients for safety in the 1970s, people mainly used them to prevent sunburn in summer. Now, the sprays and lotions that people put on when playing outside are more powerful and the makers urge them to reapply regularly. New evidence has cropped up to indicate that the ingredients can penetrate the skin, which FDA didn't know decades ago.

The subcommittee was taking testimony on the Sunscreen Innovation Act (H.R. 4250), which calls for regulation of sunscreen ingredients. You can read the bill at docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF14/20140407/102093/BILLS-1134250ih.pdf.

“Today, sunscreens are used on a routine basis by a large percentage of the population, with labeling that instructs consumers to apply sunscreens in generous amounts and to reapply, often resulting in an extent and duration of exposure to sunscreen ingredients that is orders of magnitude greater than it was in the 1970s, both for individual consumers and for the public at large,” Woodcock testified.

FDA is currently investigating the exposure safety level of six common sunscreen ingredients and plans to release findings “soon,” she said.

The agency also plans to propose rules on sprays and dosage levels.

Read or watch the testimony at http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/hearing-notice-subcommittee-health.

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