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Group: Effectiveness of Sunscreens Hazy

Advocacy Group Says Many Popular Sunscreens Offer Inadequate Sun Protection, Calls on FDA to Implement Label Changes

Industry Responds

Two spokesmen for the sunscreen industry called the EWG claims unfounded and erroneous.

Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) general council Farah Ahmed calls the contention that 7% of high SPF sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays "highly inaccurate."

"It is very clear to me that they have a very low level of understanding of the way sunscreens work and the way they are regulated by the FDA and tested by the industry," Ahmed tells WebMD.

Personal Care Products Council chief scientist John Bailey, PhD, says sunscreens are both safe and effective and highly regulated by the FDA.

Bailey noted that the agency already has the authority to bring action against any manufacturer that makes unsubstantiated claims about a sunscreen.

"The contention that (sunscreens) are too loosely or ineffectively regulated is just not true," he tells WebMD.

Bailey also strongly disagrees with the suggestion in the EWG report that the FDA is moving too slowly on its promised sunscreen label changes.

"The idea that FDA is somehow in cahoots with the industry and that we have fought to delay the process is inaccurate," he says. "The agency has received thousands of comments (on the label change), and they are in the process of reviewing these comments."

Both Bailey and Ahmed expressed concern that the EWG report could cause people to stop using sunscreens.

"I would hate to think that there are parents out there not using sunscreen on their kids because of a report like this that is not based on real science," Ahmed says.

In a statement issued Monday, American Academy of Dermatology President William Hanke, MD, said people should choose a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen as part of an overall sun protection regimen.

"The FDA is currently addressing requirements for UVA coverage in sunscreens and considering sunscreen labeling changes to help the public make knowledgeable decisions about protecting themselves from the danger of the sun," Hanke said. "The American Academy of Dermatology currently awaits the FDA's final ruling."

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