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Corona outbreak: Don’t buy non-FDA approved sub-standard hand sanitisers

By Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 11, 2020 11:38 PM IST

Taking advantage of the acute shortage of hand sanitisers in the city amid the coronavirus outbreak, local manufacturers are supplying sanitisers of inferior quality at a higher price. Labelled ‘kills 99% germs’, these products are not approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and are ineffective in providing safety against the new strain of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, HT found during its visit. Mumbai recorded two cases of coronavirus on Wednesday.

According to directives by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is essential to use hand sanitizers with alcohol concentration of more than 60%, as coronavirus can get transmitted through human contact. As a precaution, citizens are purchasing hand sanitisers in bulk over the past two months, pushing up the demand by almost 400%.

HT visited several stores in the city and found that manufacturers from Bhiwandi, Thane and Nagpur are supplying hand sanitisers at inflated rates, with packaging similar to branded companies and most information mentioned on it false, in violation of FDA rules.

A product, Biotol, which claims “99.9% protection” against germs, carried the licence number MH/101495. On contacting FDA officials, HT was told the Bhiwandi-based company had submitted its licence in 2018 and is illegally manufacturing sub-standard hand sanitisers with the old licence. A copy of the licence is in HT’s possession. The helpline number (8454803333) on the bottle does not exist.

DR Gahane , FDA assistant commissioner (drugs), said, “We have got the photos of the hand sanitisers which are being sold without proper licence. We will inquire into the matter.”

Another locally-made ‘Wiz fresh instant hand sanitizer’ with 70% ethanol alcohol also claims to fight swine flu, tuberculosis and kills bacteria in 30 seconds. Priced at 135, the product, however, does not possess a licence number, manufacturing address or any other authentic FDA signatures.

A hand wash comes under the purview of the Cosmetics Act, a senior FDA officer said, but the sanitiser comes under the Drugs Act as it has ethanol-alcohol. A manufacturer needs licence from the FDA to procure ethanol-alcohol. “We will have to investigate how these local illegal manufacturers are procuring ethanol alcohol to make hand sanitisers,” said FDA official.

Abhay Pandey, president of All Food and Drug Licence Holders’ Foundation, said, “To kill germs settled on hands, the concentration of alcohol needs to be 60%. These fake products are being sold with levels of 70-90% alcohol, but who is checking? One needs to use sterilised equipment, disinfected rooms and pure ethanol-alcohol to produce hand sanitisers...Many dealers have even stocked branded sanitisers, and are using their alcohol components to make these substandard products.”

Prasad Danve, president, All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists, said, “We are aware of the situation, and have issued a notice on a public domain instructing customers not to buy hand sanitisers and masks without valid bills.”

FOR HELP

In case of symptoms or other doubts, call 104

1-866-300-4374 or 301-796-8240 or 9-1-1 for complaints against fake hand sanitisers

FOR HELP AT RLY STATIONS

Passengers travelling inside the local trains can inform the railway authorities of a suspected passenger by calling on the railway helpline number 1123978046 or the railway security helpline number 182

A railway personnel will attend to the passenger, assist the commuter to the EMR and further to the hospital.

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