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Tanning Regulations Linger at FDA

Another member of Congress is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to move ahead with stricter regulations of indoor tanning.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) sent a letter on March 9 to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging her to act on recommendations - made by the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel on March 25, 2010 - to enforce stricter tanning bed regulations.

Rep. DeLauro noted that it will soon be exactly 2 years since the panel met and asked whether there will be any action before the end of May.

She also included a letter from two melanoma experts: Dr. David Fisher, director of the Melanoma Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Mr. Alan Geller of the Harvard School of Public Health.

In the letter, the two experts contend that during the 2 years since the FDA panel meeting, tanning bed use has led to more than 5,000 cases of new melanomas, and an estimated 750 unnecessary deaths. They also asked, "How can the established skin cancer risk from tanning beds be continuously permitted, in the face of so much scientific and clinical evidence?"

Rep. DeLauro, who is a cancer survivor, said, "I simply cannot accept this inaction." She added," When will we have honest and accurate regulations and labels in place to protect Americans and end these unnecessary deaths caused by an inappropriately-regulated device?"

Her letter comes about a month after Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released results of an investigation that showed tanning salons were misleading users about the potential health risks.

The American Academy of Dermatology supports tougher regulations of indoor tanning and has urged Congress to pass H.R. 1676, the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act. The bill had only 12 cosponsors at press time and had not been the subject of any hearings.