FDA Announces Stricter Rules on Tanning Beds

Note: Eleni Linos, MD, a leader in the field of skin cancer research and prevention, is a CTSI K Scholar and assistant professor in the UCSF School of Medicine.

By Catherine Saint Louis via NYTimes.com 

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced stricter regulation of tanning beds that are used by millions of Americans. The agency said that it would require manufacturers to put a black-box warning — one of its sternest — on the devices stating that they should not be used by anyone under the age of 18, but stopped short of banning their use by minors.

Indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, by 59 percent to 75 percent, studies have shown.

Manufacturers will also have to assure the agency and consumers that tanning beds do not deliver too much ultraviolet radiation, potentially causing burns, and that timers or alarms intended to prevent the overuse of the tanning beds work properly.

The agency reclassified so-called sunlamp products, which include tanning beds and booths, from low-risk items like adhesive bandages to moderate-risk ones. That change will allow the agency to review the safety and design of tanning beds before they are sold. Manufacturers will have to get F.D.A. clearance before they can market the products.

“It’s huge,” said Dr. Eleni Linos, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. “We’ve been trying to get the F.D.A. to change its rules both on labeling and classification of tanning beds for a really long time. It indicates the F.D.A. is finally taking into account the evidence that tanning beds are dangerous.”

Read the full story at NYTimes.org