We Are Sunshine

Doctors Criticize Cosmeceuticals’ Cozy Relationship with Anti-Sun Non-Profits

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

The $35 billion cosmeceutical skin care industry has inappropriate financial ties with some of America’s largest purveyors of anti-sun public relations – money trails that may be destroying credibility in the anti-sun movement, several doctors now allege.

The American Cancer Society and The American Academy of Dermatology have come under fire in recent months from doctors and researchers who say those groups shouldn’t be allowing cosmetic and sunscreen manufacturers to use their logos on their products in exchange for substantial six-figure royalties.

2008-02-06-sun-scare-under-fire-copy.jpgThe American Academy of Dermatology this month will debate whether or not AAD should continue to collect royalties from companies in exchange for AAD’s endorsement of sunscreen products — a relationship that New York dermatopathologist Dr. Bernard Ackerman told Dermatology Times in December is “revolting.”

Ackerman was among a group that petitioned AAD to stop accepting royalties from sunscreen manufacturers – discussion that will take place at AAD’s semi-annual meeting this month.

Criticism of AAD’s actions comes on the heels of a New York Times story last summer slamming the American Cancer Society and multibillion-dollar sun scare purveyor Neutrogena for its funding of a bogus ACS public service announcement which encouraged people to wear sunscreen to prevent melanoma. No research exists to conclude that sunscreen usage prevents melanoma, and the million-dollar ad campaign – which carried only the ACS logo – was paid for completely by Neutrogena.

The ad also featured the photo of a woman who said her sister died of melanoma, which wasn’t true. The woman in the ad was a model.

Further, ACS deputy chief medical officer Dr. Len Lichtenfeld admitted to The New York Times that ACS had “taken some license in taking that message and using it the way we’ve used it because that’s the way to get the message to our target audience” — an ethical lapse that appalled many in the research community.

“The professional indoor tanning community hopes that dermatology lobbying groups will join us in restoring what should be the intended usage of sunscreen: sunburn prevention,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Because sunscreen manufacturers are still marketing their products to be used 365 days a year in climates where sunburn isn’t a possibility, and because we now know with certainty that such over-usage totally prevents natural production of vitamin D in seasons when people need it, ACS and AAD, with their product endorsements, are now further away from responsible scientific positions on UV light and sunscreen usage. They’ve traded scientific objectivity for endorsement dollars.”

To read the Dermatology Times article, click here.

To read the New York Times article, click here.