FDA sunscreen approvals lag behind allies’ despite Congress’ prodding

By Lauren Gardner | 05/31/2024 01:12 PM EDT

The FDA regulates sunscreens as drugs because they make health claims about reducing the risk of skin cancer and aging.

The back of a bottle of sunscreen shows Drug Facts.

Congress has passed two laws since 2014 to try to speed the approval of new sunscreen ingredients to the U.S. market, yet no new sunscreens have hit U.S. shelves since 1999. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Congress has tried twice in the past decade to make it easier to bring new sunscreens to the U.S. market amid rising concerns over skin cancer, but those changes to prod quicker FDA action haven’t worked as planned.

In 2014, Congress approved a law that was supposed to get sunscreen ingredients in use abroad on a fast track for FDA approval, and four years ago lawmakers made it easier for the agency to endorse products doctors say protect people from the most common form of cancer in the U.S., which is largely preventable.

Yet no new sunscreens have come to the U.S. market since 1999.


“I really feel strongly that the FDA red tape has kept Americans from accessing new and innovative sunscreens that can prevent the development of skin cancer and ultimately save lives,” said Rep. John Joyce (R-Pa.), a dermatologist and skin cancer survivor.