15 June 2012

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The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI), the industry body representing evidence-based, non-prescription consumer healthcare products, today welcomed the publication of a new standard for sunscreen, which represents a major milestone in moves to provide greater sun protection for Australians.

The change, published by Standards Australia, will see the introduction of a higher maximum Sun Protection Factor (SPF), and a significant increase in broad spectrum protection that is proportional to the SPF claimed on the label of the product.
The maximum SPF that sunscreens are able to claim will increase from 30+ to 50+. Equally significant, it will require sunscreens to provide an increase in the level of protection against Ultraviolet-A (UVA) radiation that must be at least one third of the labelled SPF.

Before new products can be supplied, the new standard needs to be adopted in legislation.

The Executive Director of ASMI, Dr Deon Schoombie, said when adopted as the legal standard, AS/NZS 2604:2012, will introduce a significant increase in the level of protection provided by sunscreens in Australia.

"The new standard will bring Australia into line with that of other developed nations, and recognises the real danger to public health caused by excessive sun exposure.
"Even with the new, higher standard, Australians need to recognise the risks of extended sun exposure and the need to adopt a total strategy.

"Applying sunscreen to the exposed parts of the body, liberally and carefully before sun exposure is a key element in providing protection against the sun. Other steps include wearing protective clothing, wearing a hat and sunglasses and avoiding sun exposure by staying in the shade as much as possible, particularly during the hottest part of the day".
The move will also will mean a harmonisation of testing requirements with those used in Europe, Japan, ASEAN countries and the Middle East as well as harmonisation of the maximum SPF requirement which the US FDA has also proposed. This will benefit both industry and consumers, with a uniform approach to technical requirements, and closer alignment of labelling around the world.

Australia will maintain its more demanding requirements for Water Resistant claims, where the SPF is determined after the period of water immersion claimed.
ASMI has been contributing to the work of Standards Australia in the development of this standard, and has pursued changes, both to improve the sun protection provided to Australians, and to enhance operational efficiency among manufacturers.
Industry has been developing and testing new formulas in preparation to be compliant with the new standard.

Now the new standard has been published, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) can commence preparation to adopt the new standard into the relevant legislation for sunscreens and cosmetics, the Therapeutic Goods Regulations, 1990 and the Cosmetics Standard, 2007.

The revised legislation can then proceed through the parliament before being published, which is likely to occur late this year or early in 2013.
About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

Media contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications (02) 9241 2811, 0412 753 298