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Congress Aims to Expedite Approval of New Sunscreens

May 30, 2014 03:54 PM EDT

Congress is reviewing the Sunscreen Innovation Act, a bill that may speed up the process of approving new innovations for sunscreen ingredients under US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards.

The last time new over-the-counter sunscreen ingredients were approved was in the 1990s, according to TIME magazine. Since then, the approval for innovation that could offer UVA and UVB ray protection and even make wearing sunscreen more comfortable has been delayed in a backlog of more pressing FDA approvals.

According to congress, the cause for this holdup lies in the fact that sunscreens, even over-the-counter brands, are regulated as medical products, and are put through a lengthy drug-approval process.

However, on Thursday, the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee released a report that included a commentary on the state of FDA sunscreen approval, writing:

"The Committee is extremely concerned that another year has passed without FDA completing its review of the pending Time and Extent Applications (TEAs) and the OTC Monograph rulemakings on sunscreens. Immediate action on sunscreens should be a priority since the need for sunscreens is evidenced by the nearly one million people that are currently living with skin cancer and the fact that melanoma is the fifth leading cause of cancer in the US this year."

The Committee went on to demand that the FDA finish its decision making process on potentially helpful and game-changing ingredients by December 2014.

If the Sunscreen Innovation Act passes, the FDA will be required to make decisions concerning any new sunscreen product innovations within nine months of submission, meaning that anything new proposed following the House's December deadline should be approved or denied in time for Summer 2015.

In the meantime, products that do not claim to be replacement products for current sun protection options do not have to undergo FDA approval. For instance, a recent product that you can drink claims that it "vibrates" the water molecules right beneath your skin to frequencies that cancel out the harmful frequencies of UVA and UVB. However, dermatology experts have scoffed at such a concept, calling it nothing but a marketing gimmick.

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