FDA: More safety data needed for 12 sunscreen active ingredients


The Food and Drug Administration will seek more safety and efficacy data on 12 active sunscreen ingredients, including some of those frequently used in over-the-counter products.

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The ingredients requiring additional investigation are cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. The FDA actions were announced during a press briefing Feb. 21 held to discuss the proposed rule to update regulatory requirements for most sunscreen products marketed in the United States.

There are no urgent safety matters associated with these ingredients. The rule is part of FDA’s charge to construct an over-the-counter (OTC) monograph detailing all available data on sunscreen ingredients, as required by the Sunscreen Innovation Act.

OTC monographs establish conditions under which ingredients may be marketed without approved new drug applications because they are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) “and not misbranded,” according to the FDA. The proposed rule classifies active ingredients and other conditions as Category I (proposed to be GRASE and not misbranded), Category II (proposed to be not GRASE or to be misbranded), or Category III (additional data needed).

“We are proposing that these ingredients require additional data before a positive GRASE determination can be made,” FDA press officer Sandy Walsh said in an interview, referring to the 12 ingredients. “This proposed rule does not represent a conclusion by the FDA that the sunscreen active ingredients proposed as having insufficient data are unsafe for use in sunscreens. Rather, we are requesting additional information on these ingredients so that we can evaluate their GRASE status in light of changed conditions, including substantially increased sunscreen usage and evolving information about the potential risks associated with these products since they were originally evaluated.”

Among its provisions, the proposal addresses sunscreen active-ingredient safety, dosage forms, and sun protection factor (SPF) and broad-spectrum requirements. It also proposes updates to how products are labeled to make it easier for consumers to identify key product information

Thus far, the agency says that only two active ingredients – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – can be marketed without approved new drug applications because they are GRASE.

However, two other ingredients – PABA and trolamine salicylate – are not GRASE for use in sunscreens because of safety issues, Theresa Michele, MD, director of the Division of Nonprescription Drug Products Division of Nonprescription Drug Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent also not fit the criteria, she said

“There are 12 ingredients for which there are insufficient safety data to make a positive GRASE determination at this time. To address these 12 ingredients, the FDA is asking industry and other interested parties for additional data. The FDA is working closely with industry and has published several guidances to make sure companies understand what data the agency believes is necessary for the FDA to evaluate safety and effectiveness for sunscreen active ingredients, including the 12 ingredients for which the FDA is seeking more data,” she said.

In addition to seeking these additional data, the rule also proposes the following:


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