Online pharmacy asks FDA to recall some sunscreens; says products contain cancer-causing chemical


NATIONAL (CBS) — An online pharmacy and lab is asking the FDA to recall some popular sunscreens and after-sun products after tests it conducted showed they contained a known cancer-causing chemical.

With summer almost here, people are spending more time in the sun. But tests by “Vali-Sure”–an online pharmacy and lab– show dozens of popular sunscreens and after-sun products contain a chemical tied to blood cancers.

Benzene, a known carcinogen, was found in 27 percent of the sprays and lotions tested; that includes products sold by Neutrogena, Banana Boat and CVS.

“The problem with Benzene is that it can cause leukemia, anemia, things like this,” said CBS Chief Medical Correspondent Jon LaPook. LaPook said one of the things the FDA will look into is how the chemical is getting into the products.

“There is no manufacturer that’s intentionally adding it to the sunscreen product,” said LaPook. “Somehow it’s in there as a contaminate. It’s not clear how it gets in there. Is it one of the ingredients that got contaminated? Is it the process of making the lotion or the after-sun product that creates it? We’re not sure.”

Johnson & Johnson, maker of Neutrogena products, told CBS news, “Benzene is not an ingredient in any of our personal care products.”

CVS said the products it sells are safe and “We are in the process of reviewing and evaluating information in and related to Vali-Sure’s petition, and will respond accordingly.”

And the maker of Banana Boat said, “Our sun care products undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety and quality and meet all FDA regulations.

Not all the products from those brands were found to contain benzene. Health experts emphasize the vast majority of sunscreens do not contain the chemical and people still need to protect themselves from the sun.

The FDA said it is reviewing Vali-Sure’s petition for the recall. Vali-Sure made the petition public, which includes a list of the batches with detected benzene levels. Those products can be found on pages 12-15.

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