New Hampshire Senater Kelly Ayotte is taking a mixture of heat and good natured ribbing over her not only sponsoring the Sunscreen Innovation Act but bragging about its passage on Twitter.

 


Contrary to what many have said this is not an exercise in Big Government run amok. Rather it is a direct response to the deliberate inaction of the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA controls all additives to just about anything. Sunscreen falls under their purview. Without FDA approval no new ingredients can be added to sunscreen. There are several new, and presumably equally effective, ingredient used in Europe and Asia but they can’t be used in the US and those products can’t be imported to the US and sold.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S., which is why members of Congress and the House Appropriations Committee have chastised the FDA for taking so long on sunscreen ingredients, especially ingredients already widely used in Europe and Asia.

The last approval for widespread use of a sunscreen ingredient was in 1990. But since 2002, there have been eight ingredients submitted to the FDA that are still awaiting the agency’s review. Many of these ingredients haven’t received any FDA attention for years, not even negative feedback. The new law will force the FDA to make timely decisions on each of the pending ingredients within a specific timeframe. Some decisions are expected to be made within six months. New ingredients added since the law is enacted must be responded to within a year.

Several of the pending ingredients provide better protection for UVA rays. Hopefully by this coming summer, sunscreens may be even more up to date.

How important is this in and off itself? Probably not very. It is a sad commentary when it takes an act of Congress to get a federal agency to actually do its job. It signals to the new Congress what they are going to have to do in dealing with the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and other hyper-activist agencies. And it tells a GOP president in 2016 (if we have one) that taming the regulatory beast has to be a top priority.