Hand Sanitizers May Make Questionable Claims

Certain hand sanitizers made unproven claims about infection prevention

(RxWiki News) You can't always believe everything you hear about hand sanitizers.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently filed a complaint against a hand sanitizer company that is claiming its products are effective against norovirus, rotavirus, flu virus, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and Ebola.

This complaint is against the company Innovative BioDefense, Inc., of Lake Forest, California, and Colette Cozean, the company's president and CEO. The complaint is meant to keep the company from selling Zylast topical antiseptics.

Because the company is claiming these products can protect the public from certain pathogens, the products are subject to drug regulation by the FDA. Zylast products have not been proven to be safe and effective for these uses and are therefore not approved by the FDA.

"Despite being warned by the FDA about their unproven claims, this company has continued to market their products as a tool for preventing infection from serious disease-related pathogens, without adequate evidence to support these uses," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a press release. "We’re concerned that people potentially exposed to pathogens may use these products with a false sense of safety. This may result in infrequent hand washing, or the substitution of these products for protective gloves and clothing or hand washing, which are the principal methods for protecting against the spread of diseases."

The Zylast products in question include antiseptic lotions, handwashes, and hand sanitizers. All of these products are unapproved and misbranded drugs, the FDA noted.

The good news? You can take steps to prevent infections and sepsis:

1) Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It's particularly important to wash your hands at the following times:

  • Before preparing and eating food
  • Before touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth
  • Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages
  • After using the bathroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching hospital surfaces, such as bed rails

2) Keep cuts clean and covered until they are healed.

3) Know the symptoms of infection. If you notice any signs or symptoms of an infection — especially if your infection is not getting better or is getting worse — seek medical care.

4) Know the symptoms of sepsis. Do not delay medical care.

Washing your hands often is only part of the puzzle. Proper hand-washing is key. When washing your hands with soap and water, take the following steps:

1) Wet your hands with warm water. Use liquid soap if possible. Apply a nickel- or quarter-sized amount of soap to your hands.

2) Rub your hands together for at least 15 seconds, until the soap forms a lather, and then rub all over the tops of your hands. Make sure to get in between your fingers and the areas around and under the fingernails.

3) Rinse your hands well under running water.

4) Dry your hands with a paper towel if possible.

5) Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.

If you are using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, apply the product to your hands and rub them together for about 20 seconds.

Speak with your health care provider about the best ways to prevent infections.