PASS Coalition Congratulates Tom Price on His Confirmation as the Next Secretary of Health and Human Services

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Public Access to Sunscreens (PASS Coalition) offered congratulations to Dr. Tom Price on his early morning confirmation as the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The PASS Coalition issued the following statement in response to Secretary Price’s confirmation:

"As a Member of Congress, Rep. Price was a strong supporter of the bipartisan Sunscreen Innovation Act (SIA) enacted in 2014 as a response to increased rates of skin cancer. PASS looks forward to continuing to work with Secretary Price in his new role as HHS Secretary to ensure that the latest sunscreen ingredients get to market and in the hands of consumers as quickly as possible."

The bipartisan Sunscreen Innovation Act was signed into law by President Obama on November 26, 2014. The law streamlined the approval process for new sunscreen ingredients to ensure that these ingredients receive a transparent review within a predictable timeframe. The intent of the Act was to ensure Americans gain access to the latest safe, effective and innovative sunscreen products to protect against the sun’s most harmful rays.

Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer — including melanoma — than the combined incidence of breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. From 1975-2011, rates of melanoma in young men and women ages 20-39 years increased by 34% in men and by 84% in women.

Although treatments for melanoma are improving rapidly, the survival rates are still low. Taking steps to prevent melanoma are key, and part of those steps is using the most technologically advanced sunscreen products available. People around the world are doing that, but they aren’t in the U.S.

According to the Surgeon General, nearly 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer and one person dies every hour of every day from melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer. Most of these cases are preventable. The cost to treat skin cancer is over $8 billion, which doesn’t include the pain and suffering for families that lose their loved ones from the disease. The Surgeon General and CDC both regularly call on Americans to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

The last over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen ingredient to be approved by FDA was in the 1990s. Since 2002, eight new sunscreen applications have been filed and are still awaiting final decisions 14 years later. New sunscreen technologies currently awaiting approval in the U.S. have been widely available in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America, in some cases for more than 20 years.