On December 7 of last year, the U.S. Congressional Skin Care Caucus convened to conduct the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus Sunscreen Briefing.
Co-Chaired by Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and moderated by Kristina Baum, a member of the Board of Directors for the Melanoma Research Foundation, the Briefing featured comments from a panel consisting of Kim Watkins, director of Advocacy, Melanoma Research Foundation, Maral Skelsky, M.D., American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Joel Roberson, Public Access to Sunscreens (PASS) Coalition and Tom Myers, former general counsel and EVP, Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).
As of January 2 of this year, Myers has since become President and CEO of the PCPC. We spoke to Myers for his insights into the key takeaways from the panel’s discussion, what the cosmetics and personal care products industries can do to help close the gaps in the U.S.’s U.V. protection standards, and the types of innovations needed to improve the accessibility and availability of U.V. filters in personal care products for U.S. consumers.
CSCC Briefing key takeaways
The bipartisan Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus (CSCC) “was founded in 2013 with a mission to bring together U.S. representatives to advance skin cancer policy and advocacy, with the potential to reduce mortality and costs,” Myers explained. There are several key takeaways from the most recent meeting of the CSCC, which include that “skin cancer is the most common but preventable cancer,” and that “in the U.S., the FDA regulates sunscreens as non-prescription, over the counter (OTC) drugs, which require FDA approval to go to market,” Myers said.
In contrast, he added, “the E.U., for example, regulates sunscreens as cosmetics offering consumers more options.” To help address this issue, “the 2014 Sunscreen Innovation Act was established to expedite the review and approval process of new UV-protective active ingredients,” he shared, but “despite the Sunscreen Innovation Act’s goals, the FDA has not approved new filters in the U.S. for decades.”
As a result, “due to the limited number of available U.V. filters for formulating, the U.S. beauty and personal care industry faces significant limitations in innovation and is restricted in meeting today’s consumer needs and preferences, including for different skin tones,” said Myers. Therefore, he explained further, “American consumers lack access to globally approved sunscreen filters that are allowed in Europe and other regions, greatly limiting their options for sunscreen products.”
Closing the gap on U.S. U.V. protection standards
Myers shared that “sunscreen filters approved globally are not available in the U.S. because of the complex approval process by the FDA under the U.S. monograph system.” Additionally, “in the U.S., the selection of FDA-approved UV filters is limited,” and “they are not interchangeable and only a few of those available in the U.S. provide UVA or broad-spectrum coverage (protection from UVB and UVA rays),” he explained.
To address these gaps and work towards better sun care protection for U.S. consumers, “PCPC member companies are committed to working with Congress to ensure all U.S. consumers, regardless of skin tone or preferences, have access to the most innovative sun protection products,” Myers asserted.
There are also ways ingredient manufacturers and suppliers to the personal care product industry can help address sunscreen innovation and reduce skin cancer incidence in the U.S. For example, Myers illustrated, “expanding options for sunscreen U.V. filters in the U.S. would broaden product diversity, providing better protection tailored to different skin types,” as “the best sunscreen is the one consumers will actually use.”
Innovation to improve U.V. filter access and accessibility
Several types of innovations are needed to help support the improvement of accessibility and availability of U.V. filters for personal care products in the U.S. For one, said Myers, “more filter options are critically important for product innovation for all skin types, tones, and conditions and improved accessibility and availability in the U.S.”
He also shared that “Congress can support and help realize U.S. industry innovation by streamlining and expediting the regulatory process, passing appropriations to fund research, encouraging the FDA to consider alternatives to animal testing, and supporting stronger partnerships between government agencies and a broad range of stakeholders.”
Without innovations like these by legislators and industry companies, “limiting U.V. filter options leads to reduced access and fewer available sunscreens, which can lead to dire health outcomes with an increase in the prevalence of skin cancer,” Myers concluded.