Blumenthal criticizes federal agency

John O'Brien May 29, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - The Food and Drug Administration is allowing sunscreen makers to falsely label their products, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Monday.

In a formal petition, Blumenthal urged the Food and Drug Administration implement and upgrade rules changes for sunscreen labeling.

"The FDA is AWOL -- enabling false labeling and encouraging overexposure to the sun," Blumenthal said. "It has shelved rules that could save lives. Reliance on voluntary compliance has led to pervasive deception."

Blumenthal, expected to make a run at Governor, says the FDA has failed to make sunscreen standards that he urged a year ago mandatory. In 1999, the FDA updated, but stayed, rules that would have prohibited sunscreen makes from labeling products with Sun Protection Factors higher than 30.

The FDA says anything higher than 30 is misleading because the extra protection between 30 and SPFs higher than that is extremely small.

"Our message to the FDA: Screen out false sunscreen labels. Products with false labels give consumers a false sense of security - screening out UVB rays that cause burning or reddening, but possibly not UVA rays that damage deeper layers of the skin, where they can lead to melanoma and other deadly cancers," Blumenthal said.

"Absence of burning seems to confirm the false promise of blanket protection, so people feel safe and spend even more time in the sun."

The new rules would have prohibited sunscreen makers from claiming their product blocks "all harmful rays," provides "all day protection" and is waterproof.

"The FDA's delay is unfathomable and unconscionable. Claims to block 'all harmful rays,' and 'waterproof' are mostly truth proof," Blumenthal said. "The FDA has put new sunscreen standards in bureaucratic limbo, making them dead letter, useless and unenforceable.

"The plain fact - which the FDA admits - is that SPF ratings higher than 30 are a gross overstatement, and that so-called waterproof and all-day sunscreen requires reapplication to be fully effective.

"These false claims dangerously deceive consumers into believing they are protected when they may be exposing themselves - and their children - to harmful sunrays that can lead to deadly skin cancer and other harmful conditions."

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