Flu season is well under-way, and if you’re lucky, you haven’t yet been subjected to the virus’s sleepless, sweaty nights, and general discomfort. If you’re like us, you’ve been sanitizing everything from your computer mouse to your hands to the doorknobs in your home, but now, the FDA says that a popular sanitizing product, Purell, might not be doing the job it’s claiming to do.
The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a “warning letter” to the parent company of Purell, Gojo Industries, instructing them to cease making unproven claims that the sanitizer can stop Ebola, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureu (MRSA), and the flu. The warning was issued in regards to a few specific products including Purell advanced hand sanitizer gentle and free foam, Purell advanced hand sanitizer gel, and the Purell advanced hand sanitizer gentle and free foam ES6 starter kit. The FDA says that these products are most commonly used at schools, athletic facilities, and offices.
Earlier today, CNN reported that the FDA is cracking down on Gojo for making false claims on gojo.com, purell.com, and social media accounts for the brand. In the letter, the FDA’s director of compliance gave numerous examples of what the FDA says are unproven claims for the Purell products. For example, on the Gojo.com website FAQs, it says that “Purell Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizers, which are formulated with ethyl alcohol, may be effective against viruses such as the Ebola virus, norovirus, and influenza.” According to the FDA, there is no evidence that Purell can fight against these viruses.
The FDA also found the claims that “Purell kills more than 99.99 percent of most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA & VRE” and that it is proven to “reduce student absenteeism by up to 51 percent” to be problematic. The FDA does not allow hand sanitizer companies to say that their products can protect against viruses like the flu. They claim that this suggests that the product is a drug “because they are intended for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”
So what’s next? Gojo spokesperson Samantha Williams has responded to the letter stating, “We have begun updating relevant website and other digital content as directed by the FDA and are taking steps to prevent a recurrence.”
With all this being said, it’s important to keep in mind that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends using alcohol-based sanitizers to help prevent the flu and spread of bacteria, so don’t stop using your Purell just yet. While clearly, some checks and balances with the marketing of Purell products needed to occur, sanitizers can help you stay germ-free. Purell may not prevent the flu on it’s own, but it can certainly help.
Additionally, it’s safe to say that sanitizing isn’t the only protective measure you should take to avoid the flu. Check out some of these all-natural remedies for winter woes and stay healthy all season long!