By Tim Devaney - 05/20/14 12:11 PM EDT
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is criticizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a "lack of focus" when it comes to reviewing new ingredients for sunscreen.
Isakson, a two-time survivor of melanoma, is leading congressional efforts to speed up the FDA's approval process of new sunscreen ingredients that he says could prevent skin cancer and save lives.
He was joined by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday at an event hosted by The Hill to discuss their bill, the Sunscreen Innovation Act.
"I think it's a lack of focus," Isakson said.
The FDA's approval process for certain sunscreen ingredients has grown so slow, Isakson and Maloney said, that in some cases the agency has spent 12 years reviewing ingredients that are already being safely used in Europe.
Maloney accused the FDA of "dragging their feet."
"The fact that something set for 12 years before the FDA when it could have saved lives, that's inexcusable," Isakson said.
Skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 3.5 million new cases diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
But lawmakers believe advancements in sunscreen technology could help prevent many cases of skin cancer — if they ever make it to market.
Disappointed with what they see as the FDA's lethargic review process, Isakson and Maloney are pushing legislation that would force the agency to make quicker decisions on applications for new sunscreen products.
"The only really safe way to be in the sun is with the sunscreen materials, but the fact that Europe has better ones, there's no reason that we can't implement it," Maloney said.