The coronavirus outbreak has caused customers to flock to stores in hopes of stocking up on items like hand sanitizer in the belief that brands like Purell would prevent the spread of the virus. However, the manufacturer that makes Purell hand sanitizer is being sued for false and misleading claims about the effectiveness of their product.
According to USA Today, Purell parent company GOJO Industries is facing a class-action lawsuit on the grounds of its misleading claim that their product “kills 99.99% of illness causing germs.” The suit was filed in the Northern District of Ohio on March 13 and represents four people in Oregon, Massachusetts, California, and Michigan.
The suit is arguing that Purell stats have no scientific proof and is misleading when the company claims that one “squirt” of their hand sanitizer is twice as more effective than other brands.
According to USA Today, GOJO Industries, CEO Carey Jaros, said: “these lawsuits are without merit,” and “We stand 100% behind our products.”
In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned the company about the lack of scientific credibility of its website and social media claims that Purell could prevent MRSA, Ebola, VRE, norovirus, and the common flu. The FDA issued Purell’s CEO a warning letter which said the following:
“These statements, made in the context of the Frequently Asked Questions section, clearly indicate your suggestion that PURELL® Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizers are intended for reducing or preventing disease from the Ebola virus, norovirus, and influenza. As such, the statements are evidence of your products’ intended uses. However, FDA is currently not aware of any adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating that killing or decreasing the number of bacteria or viruses on the skin by a certain magnitude produces a corresponding clinical reduction in infection or disease caused by such bacteria or virus.”
In response, GOJO Industries has updated its website and social media. However, labels with claims of Purell’s effectiveness still remain present on sites like Amazon, Walgreens, Target, and other vendors.