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Sunscreens in the US are outdated and ineffective: FDA concerns and slowness are to blame


ForumDaily New York

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Every day, nearly 10 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer. Using sunscreen can significantly reduce the risk of disease. But the federal government is doing everything it can to keep effective sunscreens out of the hands of ordinary Americans, reports Forbes.

Unlike most developed countries, the United States classifies солнцезащитный крем as a medicine, not as a cosmetic product. This means that these creams are subject to regulation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But the problem is that the agency is slow to approve new treatment methods. The FDA has not approved a new type of sunscreen since 1999.

It shouldn't be like that

In Europe, sunscreen is classified as a cosmetic product. This classification gave companies the freedom to create more effective products with much lower barriers to entry into the market.

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Lawmakers from both parties are pushing to reclassify sunscreen as a cosmetic in the United States. It would ease the regulatory barriers that prevent Americans from buying new and more effective sunscreens.

These products block potentially harmful UV rays from penetrating the skin using one of two types of filters. Physical filters, such as the thick white zinc oxide traditionally used in sunscreens, literally prevent light from reaching your skin. Meanwhile, chemical filters neutralize UV ​​rays before they can cause harm.

While physical filters have remained essentially the same for decades, chemical filters are getting better every year. And the more effective chemical filters are, the less need there is for thick, sticky physical ingredients. Manufacturers may add chemical filters to body lotions and face creams that people use regularly, not just during trips to the beach.

Not only do these types of sunscreens make it more enjoyable to use, they make it more likely that people will use them regularly and not just during traditional summer activities. And that's exactly what the American Academy of Dermatology recommends. But only 13,5% of Americans currently do so.

A decade behind

“Many dermatologists argue that American sunscreens are far behind the leading products in this area. They're concerned that the FDA's decade-long delay in approving new sunscreens is contributing to rising skin cancer rates, said Alex Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University.

He emphasized that most American sunscreens are only effective against the type of ultraviolet rays that we encounter on especially sunny days. Such rays cause sunburn. But there are other, more dangerous rays that the sun emits constantly, even on cold and cloudy days.

So, even if an American were to wear sunscreen every day, chances are they would still be exposed to more harmful UV rays. This is one reason why most American sunscreens do not meet European safety standards.

But the FDA prides itself on its careful and methodical approval process. To gain approval for a new drug, companies must go through three phases of clinical trials, a process that can take a decade or more. This process may make sense for experimental drugs that carry a high risk of dangerous side effects. But for sunscreen this makes no sense.

That's why lawmakers are pushing to reclassify sunscreen as a cosmetic.

Melanoma is the fifth most common type of cancer in the United States, and the incidence of skin cancer is on the rise. Making it easier for Americans to access more effective sunscreens will help reverse this trend.

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