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Purell Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Claims It Could Prevent Disease, Illness

  • Written by: Russell Maas
  • 3 Comments

A class action lawsuit filed against the manufacturer of Purell hand sanitizer, claims consumers have been misled by deceptive advertising that suggested the product prevents disease and reduces illness, which has not been established.

The Purell class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court Central District of California Western Division on January 31, indicating the manufacturer of the widely used hand sanitizer, Gojo Industries, Inc., has made false and misleading statements, and engaged in deceptive business practices.

Plaintiff Aleisa Manal indicates Purell was advertised and sold with claims that have subjected it to mandatory testing and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), falsely representing that it could protect consumers from diseases and pathogens like Ebola, MRSA, VRE, norovirus, flue, and Candida auris. The deceptive advertising for Purell went beyond merely describing the general intended use of a topical antiseptic, but were intended to give consumers a false sense of security, according to the complaint.

For manufacturers to legally make claims that their products offer a medical benefit, such as preventing illnesses and diseases, they must go through the FDA’s Premarket Approval Application (PMA), which is a scientific and regulatory review to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the drug. The review process is a federal requirement intended to protect consumers against potentially adverse health consequences.

The lawsuit seeks class action status to pursue damages on behalf of users, claiming Gojo’s misrepresentations placed consumers at an increased risk of illness by using the hand sanitizer products to prevent illness and infection, rather than pursuing appropriate preventative measures.

The complaint follows an FDA warning letter issued to Gojo Industries on January 17, which instructed the manufacturer to stop making claims that its products prevent a myriad diseases and illnesses, and as a result of these advertising claims the agency stated it is reclassifying Purell as an unapproved drug.

The FDA indicated some of the marketing statements for over-the-counter Purell hand sanitizer violate the Food and Drug Cosmetic Act by claiming the product can cure, treat or prevent a disease. The agency noted Purell advertisements indicate it “kills more than 99.99% of most common germs,” including the bacteria that can cause illnesses like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). Some statements claim Purell can lead to “100% MRSA and VRE reduction.”

Such claims are false or unproven, according to the FDA, and go far beyond what the manufacturer is allowed to claim about Purell in its advertising.

The reclassification as an unapproved drug puts Purell well under the purview of FDA enforcement. The letter calls for GOJO to fix the advertising claims and other violations promptly, and to notify the agency of how it will address the problems within 15 days of receiving the letter.

Hand sanitizers are intended to be used when soap and water are not available. However, they have become increasingly popular in home and office settings. Too often, the topical antiseptics are left on the hands and not rinsed off with water, health experts say.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hand sanitizer only when hand-washing with soap and water is not available. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and onset of illness, health experts say.

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3 comments

  1. Bertram Reply

    I have use hand sanitizer‘s for years I worked at the hospital and all diseases I had to come in contact with surprising I have not gotten sick it is a big surprise to me to hear that this does not work I took a big risk and using this product I would like to be on a class action lawsuit on this. More and more I think about this that’s why I got sick so many times at the hospital I wash my hands all the time but sometimes I could not are you sanitizers that’s why I got sick quite often the product I use it was not doing anything for me after learning this hearing about this product I say to myself that’s why.

  2. Tobyous Reply

    This answer I lot of questions I had I was wondering why me and my family was always feeling kind of ill even if we washed our hands all day ever day it was the hand sanitizer we was using thinking what purell had on it’s label was true and working but I see not and it’s a shame to be mislead like that we as the public start to not no who to trust

  3. Qnyra Reply

    It doesn’t work scientifically

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