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The US Is Trying to Expedite Sunscreen Innovation

Sunscreen is currently subject to an approval process similar to that of new pharmaceuticals

(Photo: Erik Isakson/Blend Images/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that aims to improve the process of sunscreen development, the Hill reports. The Sunscreen Innovation Act, as it's called, would expedite the process of testing and launching new, more effective sunscreens. As Time reports, the House of Representatives has already passed a similar bill, and if signed into action by Obama, the new Act would require the Food and Drug Administration to respond to new sunscreen innovations in a much timelier manner.

The group pushing the bill includes both advocacy groups focused on skin cancer and the manufacturers of sunscreens. Since the FDA currently puts sunscreen ingredients through nearly the same scrutinizing review process as new pharmaceuticals, Time reports, Europe and Asia are already using sunscreens with active ingredients that are still waiting for approval in the U.S. Some ingredients have been awaiting review for more than a decade. The advocates of the Sunscreen Innovation Act want faster approval time from the FDA. 

They're not the only ones, though, who have been pushing the FDA to work faster. As NBC reports:

At the urging of patient groups, Congress and the drug industry, the FDA over the past decade has introduced multiple mechanisms for speeding new products to the market. While patient groups and drug companies applaud these measures, saying they get much-needed medication into the hands of patients more quickly, critics say the agency is approving products before they have been fully vetted.

There's also some evidence that the FDA is not quite so slow as critics make it out to be.

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