HelioScreen, a French company involved in evaluation of sun protection products has entered Indian market partnering with C.L.A.I.M.S Pvt Ltd, a Mumbai based CRO specializing in clinical research in the area of skin, hair and body care.
15 year old Helioscreen is a laboratory providing services for testing any products (cosmetics, textile, clothes etc.) in regard of their properties for UV /sun protection by means of In Vitro testing. With their profound involvement in R&D, and conceptualized a very particular kind of ‘robot’ which is considered as a performer in UV protection as it ensures consistency during In Vitro testing.
LSW met Dr. Dominique Lutz, CEO and found out more about sunscreen technology and his company HelioScreen.
Excerpts from the interview conducted during his visit to Mumbai.
LSW : In general, some of the sunscreen agents which are in use are uncertain on safety and efficacy. What are your views on this?
Dr. Dominique Lutz : As long I know and considering the most important companies, we cannot state some ingredients are uncertain on safety. I know some debates on some of them but it is not a tremendous problem. Clearly the industries have to comply with the quality of these ingredients. The same filter (i.e. bmdbm now out of its patent) can be produced on bad conditions and include by product. But this is another story. Now considering the purpose of product including sun filters, I would totally agree we can state some products are uncertain on safety if we mean the safety is to protect the consumer from harmful UV exposure, some time it may be better not to be protected than protected by a “bad” product. And a so called bad product may be a product which claims a high SPF protection only in the UVB range. This has been the starting point to define a new way of protection including UVB and UVA and balanced effect on the all spectrum. It is far from being followed and even check with testing in some companies.
LSW: Claims of water-proof, instant protection etc are misguiding users particularly when it comes to cosmetics. Your comment.
Dr. Lutz : I totally agree even if cosmetics are efficient this is a pity that the marketing claims, lead the customer to be misguided for its use or the benefits he can expect from the product sometimes it may also be dangerous and claims must be controlled with attention by the authorities. As an example claim of full UV screen may induce customer not to pay attention with an over exposure. Sometimes it could be helpful and efficient to explain to the consumers as an example a product needs to be spread long before exposing and more efficient if renewed frequently in order to make it to perform “normally”. There is a chemical process and it is not enough just to spread the product at the last moment. May be the marketing should be first informed to give the good advice.
LSW : Many sun screening products are available in India, but the composition details are not clear because most of them are cosmetic products. How do you propose to go about this in your foray in the Indian market?
Dr. Lutz : : I think the rules in EU or other countries to exhibit CTFA formula is something logical. It is not so complicated to put in place but I think India health authorities have a lot to do to go towards international standard for claiming, demonstrating, testing etc…
LSW :Unlike the US FDA and EU guidelines, in India there are no set guidelines for standardization. Some of the agents are manufactures by pharmaceuticals companies as combination products like cosmetics. Will you be focusing only on cosmetic area pertaining to skin, hair and body care?
Dr. Lutz : Most of the time yes because they are these rules and guideline which are compulsory and so plenty of requirement to market a product. Nevertheless ourknow about is to measure the UV transmission (or no UV transmission) and we have had plenty of different works done on specific material. Just let me take as example textile, Sun glasses or even plaster. Let me also precise the countries in which we have the most important market are not automatically the ones in which they are the rules. In that case there is a hard competition and sometimes customers just care about the report and not the quality of the information. In Vitro AND in vivo tests can be really variable, any one would agree with this statement. At the same time, industrials or laboratories when developing need some tools to be efficient. It is not with your expertise, long experience you can guarantee a results even choosing the best ingredients. Only some specific tests most of the time different from the ones for claiming are the tolls to ensure and potentialize the results.
LSW : Generally, sun screens are available in the cream. Lotion, sprays which are OTC (over the counter) products. Are you planning to look into pharmacokinetics area?
Dr. Lutz : We already work with pharmaceutical companies in France. When a product needs a certification to be classified as a medicine, plenty of tests which have nothing to see with the claiming tests are required by the authorities. Also we did some method on photo stability for the Canadian health authorities etc…Clearly it also depends on the rules of each country.
LSW : Now that HelioScreen is entering the Indian market, with a focus on personal care products which is a competitive market. Do you plan to look at offering your solutions to other areas also?
Dr. Lutz :Considering the testing for UV protection efficiency there is so much to do and in fact no yet competitors, we prefer to be concentrated that allow us to be really a specialist as required for such a task.
LSW : you share some information on HelioScreen’s partnership with C.L.A.M.S
Dr. Lutz : We have had plenty of proposals from India but CLAIMS is doing the same job means TESTING and they have the serious and organization to propose complementary tests they cannot perform themselves. They have the background to explain the technique and it is not only a business opportunity but a real partnership.
LSW : Finally, a brief history of your company and the future plans in India in particular.
Dr. Lutz : Helioscreen has been created 15 Y ago with the only aim to propose in vitro testing services for sun screen evaluation. But at that time in EU, there were no methods, no market, and no trust in these services. Just my conviction it will be the future with my experience within COLIPA and a solid relationship with French Industries. Also the opportunity when I quit the industry to became an independent expert nearby French Health authorities and the possibility to work and contribute a lot both on a technical point of view and also political in EU Commission. Afterwards we have been logically involved in the ISO worldwide process as expert.
My company has become more important and now has competitors but we have proposed the most important innovations in the development of these methods and will stay forever the forerunner. Today our contribution in RD in very huge compared to the size of my company. Also the development all over the word as these methods must be applied all over the word to be efficient. We can take for sure the future SPF standard on which we are working for decades in the international committee will have been proposed from our laboratory.
LSW : Any other information that you would like to share with.
Dr. Lutz : Unless in a country where there is still few constraint to put a product on the market the new requirement for sun protection claiming are more and more understood by consumers. Also keeping with the technical requirements about protection ( UVB/UVA) is not so easy, so it is better to be ready for the very next future of the legislation and requirement from consumers than wait for compulsory rules from authorities. That will make the difference.