The makers of Purell are pruning their marketing strategy after the Food and Drug Administration slapped the company with a warning letter that told it to knock off unproven claims that the hand sanitizer can prevent diseases like Ebola, norovirus and MRSA.
The letter came as the United States is bracing for one of its worst flu seasons in decades and worldwide concerns grow amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 100 people in China, where the outbreak originated.
The FDA pointed to several instances where the Akron, Ohio-based company hedged with language that acknowledged it was unaware of any testing done on hand sanitizer and Ebola but went on to describe how such viruses are easily killed by alcohol — Purell’s key ingredient — and how groups like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control recommend using alcohol-based hand sanitizers during an outbreak.
Those claims, the FDA wrote, indicate Gojo intended for customers to use its products to eliminate Ebola, flu and other diseases despite there being no studies that prove such antiseptics can produce the results Gojo implied.
Experts caution that while hand sanitizers are highly effective for killing certain germs on contact, consumers should understand the products don’t work miracles.