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SEASONAL SALES INDICATE AMERICANS HEADING OUTDOORS WANT THE PROTECTION OF SUNSCREENS WITH HIGH SPF

 LIBERTY CORNER, N.J., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- It's the "good old summertime" at last and with record-breaking heat in some parts of the country, the "lazy, hazy days" are luring droves of Americans to beaches and pools, packing bathing suits, coolers of cold drinks -- and sunscreen.
 Actually, in Summer 1993, Americans have a wider variety of choices among optimum-benefit sun protection than they may have in years to come.
 That U.S. outdoor types -- especially those most at risk, including children, folks with sun-sensitive skin, and people whose jobs require extended exposure to the sun -- want sunscreen with a high "sun protection factor" (SPF) is proven by recent sales records. In the four weeks ending May 15, three of the top ten sunscreen products in sales carried SPFs of 45.
 Unless the FDA reverses its proposal, this could be one of the last summers such a high SPF will be available to consumers. Recent proposals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) included a cap of 30 for SPF values.
 Dr. John M. Clayton, Senior Vice-President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs of Schering-Plough Health Care Products, makers of Coppertone and other sunscreens, is among those leaders in the dermatological community who make a case for SPFs higher than 30.
 "Sunscreens incorporating combinations of ultra-violet absorbers with an SPF higher than 30 block significantly more UVA radiation in addition to providing added sunburn protection," Dr. Clayton said. He pointed out that UVA rays penetrate the skin to deeper levels than UVB rays and contribute to premature aging and wrinkling and also to certain types of skin cancer.
 "This would add support to the conclusion that high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreens not only are appropriate for many people but both highly desirable and medically justified," Dr. Clayton added.
 Increased Attention to Sun Protection Welcome
 Dr. Clayton noted an FDA proposal that labels on sunscreens include a "sun alert" about the harmful effects of over-exposure to the sun. The warning would include this statement:
 "Regular use of sunscreens over the years may reduce the chance of skin damage, some types of skin cancer, and other harmful effects due to the sun."
 "We welcome joint industry and FDA initiatives that would encourage people to incorporate sunscreen application into their daily health regimen because the latest scientific findings indicate that protection against ultraviolet radiation is an important preventative health measure," Dr. Clayton said.
 Dr. Clayton noted that, while this protection is required year- round, the need naturally becomes especially acute in the summertime when people who do not ordinarily spend much time outdoors take to beaches, tennis courts, golf courses, and the like. He also pointed out that as exposure to the sun increases, even for people who are outdoors year-round, the need for more complete protection, that is, a higher SPF, also increases.
 Dr. Clayton said this need and the FDA's proposed "sun alert" label seem contrary to the proposal to cap SPF at 30.
 Special Need Seen for Children's Protection
 The FDA proposal also would require products used on children between 6 months and 2 years of age to provide a minimum SPF of four. He pointed out that Water BABIES and Coppertone KIDS both start at an SPF of 15.
 "We favor any effort to increase sun protection for children. It is well-documented that liberal and regular use of a high SPF sunscreen for the first 18 years of life can reduce the risk of certain types of skin cancer by nearly 80 percent. For that reason, Water BABIES and Coppertone KIDS start at an SPF of 15," Dr. Clayton said.
 Dr. Clayton also called for continuation of current labeling practice concerning water-proof qualities of sunscreen products. Clinical tests on Coppertone KIDS demonstrate it provides sun protection that won't wash off for six full hours of outdoor water activity. But specific information of this type would be eliminated under a proposal that the label designations merely specify the product is "water resistant" or "very water resistant."
 The FDA's latest proposals are contained in its Tentative Final Monograph published May 12 in the Federal Register. The Final Monograph is not expected to be ready for publication before 1995. In the interim, there is a six-month period for public comment and a one-year interval for the submission of new data.
 Summer 1993 comes at a time when the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) is forecasting that more than 32,000 new cases of malignant melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, are likely this year. Of these, 25 percent are expected among persons aged 39 years or less. In addition, the link between worsening environmental conditions and the potential rise in skin cancer rates prompted the AAD, at an October 1992 meeting, to recommend that a floor be considered on SPF values rather than a cap.
 Schering-Plough has developed ongoing programs with the American Cancer Society, Skin Cancer Foundation, and the American Academy of Dermatology to educate the public about the importance of sun protection.
 -0- 7/15/93
 /CONTACT: Doug Petkus of Schering-Plough, 908-604-1971, or Nancy Weltchek of Hill and Knowlton, 212-697-5600, for Schering-Plough/
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CO: Schering-Plough ST: New Jersey IN: HEA SU:

CK -- NY023 -- 1841 07/15/93 10:09 EDT
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Date:Jul 15, 1993
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