FDA Policy Overexposes Americans to UV Radiation

When Americans hit the beach this summer, an essential item almost everyone will bring with them is sunscreen to protect their skin from overexposure to the sun. But did you know that the sunscreen in your beach bag is not protecting you as strongly as it could be?

The Washington Post reports:

The tourists flocking to the French Riviera or Spain’s Costa del Sol this summer will slather on sunscreen containing the latest ingredients for protecting against the sun’s most harmful ultraviolet rays.

But American beachgoers will have to make do with sunscreens that dermatologists and cancer-research groups say are less effective and have changed little over the past decade.

What stands in the way of Americans being able to use the most effective sunscreens? The Food and Drug Administration, the government bureaucracy without whose permission no sunscreen can be sold in the United States.

According to the article:

The agency has not expanded its list of approved sunscreen ingredients since 1999. Eight ingredient applications are pending, some dating to 2003. Many of the ingredients are designed to provide broader protection from certain types of UV rays and were approved years ago in Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere.

As the sunscreen industry and consumers alike grow frustrated, the FDA vows — as it always does when its snail-paced approval process makes headlines — to speed things up. This would certainly allow Americans to purchase the best protection for their skin sooner than they otherwise could.

But we should ask a more fundamental question: if we want to buy a new type of sunscreen, why should we need the government’s permission in the first place? In the pursuit of our health, shouldn’t we be free to take the necessary actions without having to first clear them with a bureaucrat?