By  on September 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — Sunscreen regulations, harmonization of cosmetics labels from country to country and issues involving the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics continue to be among top priorities for global cosmetics regulation.

Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlined priorities on Wednesday in advance of international meetings among the U.S., the European Commission, Japan and Canada about international cosmetics regulations.

Ingredient safety and authorized substance lists, alternatives testing methods and good manufacturing practices will also be on the agenda, the FDA said.

FDA officials have been working with their regulatory counterparts to come to an agreement on final rules for over-the-counter sunscreen for two years, said Matthew Holman, with the FDA’s division of nonprescription regulation development in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

In meetings this week, the group hopes to finalize an interim rule that was written two years ago and release it later this month.

The goal of the International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation initiative, which next meets Wednesday through Friday in Tokyo, is “to maintain the highest level of global consumer protection while minimizing barriers to international trade.”

Increased scrutiny of consumer safety issues in recent years has left few product categories untouched, including cosmetics. In testimony delivered to the FDA representatives on Wednesday, Ellie Collinson from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics urged the regulating body to make consumer safety a higher priority in its efforts to cooperate on global regulation of cosmetics.

“We implore this body to focus its energies on identifying ways to remove obstacles to more effectively regulate cosmetics, as opposed to working to remove safe cosmetics regulations,” Collinson testified. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also expressed concern that the ICCR meetings between regulatory bodies do not include consumer and health advocates.

The harmonization of regulations and labeling of cosmetics has been a focus of the initiative and continues to be very important, industry representatives said. Carl Geffken, technical, regulatory and legislative chair for Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers & Distributors said his members were particularly interested in improving labeling coordination worldwide as different requirements in different countries posed an increased financial burden. Achieving “a common characterization of safety for cosmetic ingredients and authorized substances,” was also a top industry priority, Geffen said.

Francine Lamoriello, executive vice president of global strategies for The Personal Care Products Council said that her association thought the ICCR initiative was working well and making progress on industry issues. “[It] represents a critical step toward genuine global regulatory alignment that will benefit both consumers and companies,” she said.

Representatives participating in the ICCR meetings include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; the European Commission, DG Enterprise; and Canada’s Health Canada.

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