Cincinnati, Ohio False Advertising Attorney and deceptive marketing lawyer reviewing the Purell class action lawsuit filed on behalf of plaintiffs
GOJO, the maker of Purell hand sanitizer, has been hit with a class action lawsuit, alleging the company misled consumers with false statements about its ability to kill bacteria and viruses. The brand is known for killing “99.99% of illness-causing germs,” though consumer safety advocates and the FDA are questioning the company’s claims.
The plaintiff’s complaint states, “These claims lack a scientific basis, rendering the affirmative misrepresentations misleading.”
In January 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sent a warning letter to GOJO and released a statement that read: “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.”
A Purell class action lawsuit was recently filed in Ohio, and represents plaintiffs in multiple states. The suit seeks damages for consumers who have purchased the product under false assumptions and relied on the company’s marketing practices and claims.
One of the claims listed in the complaint: “one squirt of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer equals two squirts of other national brands, providing 2X the sanitizing strength.” GOJO management denies any wrongdoing and stands by its product.
Joe Lyon is a Cincinnati, Ohio consumer safety attorney reviewing deceptive marketing and false advertising claims for plaintiffs nationwide.
The suits filed against Purell follow concerns that the company is taking advantage of a fragile situation with hand sanitizer shortages and serious health concerns over the coronavirus (SAR-CoV-2) outbreak.
The FDA said Purell is an unapproved new drug in violation of “section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.” The FDA gave examples of GOJO presenting unsubstantiated claims on their products websites and marketing materials.
“These statements,” the FDA noted, “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. Furthermore, we are not aware of evidence demonstrating that the PURELL® Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizer products as formulated and labeled are generally recognized by qualified experts as safe and effective for use under the conditions suggested, recommended, or prescribed in their labeling.”
The agency said it was reclassifying Purell as an unapproved drug, rather than an over-the-counter product.
The FDA also criticized Gojo’s FAQ, which suggests that because Purell is made with ethyl alcohol, it might be effective against viruses like Ebola, norovirus and influenza. The FDA does not allow hand sanitizer brands to make viral claims.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure for flu prevention. The CDC says that washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the spread of germs, but if unavailable, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol can act as a good alternative.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been proven to reduce the number of microbes on hands, but hand sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Soap and water can be a better solution, and sanitizer may not be used correctly.
Studies show that hand sanitizers work well in some settings like hospitals where hands are not dirty, heavily soiled or greasy.
The CDC suggests when using hand sanitizer, apply a liberal amount of the product to the hands and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.
Consumers are urged to protect children from harmful exposures to sanitizer. From 2011 to 2015, U.S. poison control centers received nearly 85,000 calls about hand sanitizer exposure among children.
Children may be attracted to hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged. Hand sanitizer products like Purell should be stored out of the reach of young children, and should be used with adult supervision.
If you have been misled by companies’ false claims and purchased a product because of deceptive marketing practices, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options. Class action false advertising lawsuits can be filed and consumers can be well-compensated.