AAD Questions Sunscreen Seal Program


Questions were raised at the American Academy of Dermatology's (AAD) annual meeting in February over its Seal of Recognition program. The program was approved in July 2006, and since that time, two products have carried the seal: Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion SPF 55 and Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion SPF 5.

The Seal of Recognition is also available for cosmetics/moisturizers, clothing, hats, laundry additives, shade structures, and window films/tints that meet the AAD's criteria for reducing sun exposure. At the AAD's meeting, A. Bernard Ackerman, MD, submitted to academy officials a petition signed by 80 members opposed to the program. A special meeting of members was then held on where in a closed ballot straw poll, 31 members supported the program, 18 supported the program without fees, and 31 members opposed the program.

Ackerman's objection to the seal program reportedly stems from the honoraria that members of the AAD board have received from or served as consultants to companies that manufacture sunscreens. This honoraria may strike the public as a conflict of interest for the AAD as a whole, given that the group promotes the use of sunscreens.

Diane Baker, MD, president of AAD, maintains that members do not receive any financial gain from the program, and no officer or director has any influence over which products are or are not awarded the seal. According to the AAD, any company that produces an effective sunscreen is eligible for the seal.

The cost of an application of one product would cost the manufacturer US$5,000, US$10,000 upon approval of the application and US$10,000 on the one-year anniversary of acceptance. Each product has to undergo a review every two years to ensure that it still meets evidence-based criteria as set forth by the academy.

The AAD noted that net costs beyond those used to administer the program would fund the AAD's skin cancer public education program. The Academy reported adopting the sliding fee scale (based on the number of products submitted by a manufacturer) in November 2007. The application fee was also reduced at that time to US$5,000 based on the AAD's review of similar programs and the potential costs of the program.

The AAD board of directors has reviewed the summary of the meeting and will discuss it at its April meeting. The AAD said that it plans to release the information discussed at the special member meeting but did not specify when.

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