Issue Date: September 3, 2007
FDA Proposes Sunscreen Rating System
FDA has proposed a long-awaited UV-A sunscreen effectiveness rating system and testing protocol. Sunscreen ingredient makers, formulators, and consumers have waited eight years for the agency to provide guidance on how effectively creams and lotions protect against UV-A rays, which scientists believe cause skin-wrinkling and contribute to skin cancer. The rating system would assign one to four stars to a product based on new in vitro and in vivo tests, with one star corresponding to the lowest level of protection and four stars indicating the highest. The star rating system is similar to one developed 15 years ago in the U.K. by Boots Co. Ciba Specialty Chemicals, a leading supplier of sunscreen active ingredients, says the proposed system is a "clear step in the right direction." For 30 years, U.S. consumers have relied on sun protection factor (SPF) ratings, which only indicate the ability of a sunscreen to block the UV-B rays responsible for sunburn. The confusion over how effectively sunscreens protect people from the harmful effects of the sun led to the filing of a consumer fraud lawsuit last year in California against a number of sunscreen manufacturers. FDA's proposal would also allow new combinations of avobenzone, a UV-A filter, and other sunscreen active ingredients.
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