FDA gives in to Blumenthal's demands

John O'Brien Aug. 27, 2007, 2:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Apparently criticism will get Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal everywhere.

Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration responded to Blumenthal's May petition by proposing new rules in the sunscreen industry. Blumenthal called the rules "unacceptably late."

In May, he said, "The FDA is AWOL -- enabling false labeling and encouraging overexposure to the sun." Blumenthal's concern stems from rules created, but stayed in 1999, by the FDA that would have prohibited sunscreen makers 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. The new rules will prohibit anything above 50, and waterproof claims will be barred.

"These rule changes -- unacceptably late -- are a significant milestone in cancer protection," Blumenthal said. "The FDA should adopt them by next summer, not later, because they are vitally important in fighting melanoma and other deadly cancers."

The FDA must accept public input until November, then companies will have almost two years to get up to code with the new labeling requirements, which also remind users to reapply frequently.

"Rather than enable sunscreen manufacturers to falsely promise blanket UVB and UBA protection, the FDA will soon require specific ratings (low, medium, high and highest for UVB and UVA protection), as well as an additional four-star system for UVA," Blumenthal said.

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