Sunscreen should not be seen as a beauty product

Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal, March 2017

Melanoma UK is deeply concerned about NHS England’s plans to remove a number of medicines from being prescribable which they deem ‘low priority’ (The Pharmaceutical Journal online, 29 March 2017). The suggestion that sunscreen has “little clinical value” is something that we take great exception to.

We fully support the need to review all medicines that are prescribed, but sunscreen needs to be viewed more seriously. To remove this from the list shows a blatant disregard of patients who have debilitating skin conditions. If we take, for example, patients with advanced melanoma who are being treated with immunotherapy, they can suffer terrible side effects, which means that they are extremely sensitive to sunlight. These are the patients who will benefit from being able to access a good quality sunscreen on prescription.

We need to move away from thinking that sunscreen is a beauty product. Sunscreen is extremely important to us all, not just to families with skin conditions. In certain cases, there is justification for sunscreen to be made available on prescription.

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