You may not have heard of Gojo Industries, Inc., but you probably have heard of its product Purell Hand Sanitizer. But are the company’s claims for its product accurate? The complaint for this class action says no. It also cites Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticism that the product is incorrectly marketed as a drug.
The class for this action is all consumers who bought the product anywhere in the US during the class period. A New York Subclass has also been proposed for those who bought the product in the state of New York.
The complaint reproduces more than two pages of claims made for Purell products, including these:
- “Kills more than 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA & VRE.”
- “100% MRSA & VRE Reduction … A recent outcome study shows that providing the right products, in a customized solution, along with educational resources for athletes and staff can reduce MRSA and VRE by 100%”
- “51% Reduced Student Absenteeism”
- “Even though norovirus is highly contagious, there are ways you can reduce the risk of its spread.”
- “The FDA does not allow hand sanitizer brands to make viral claims, but from a scientific perspective, influenza is an enveloped virus. Enveloped viruses in general are easily killed or inactivated by alcohol.”
- “As of today, we are not aware of any hand sanitizers that have been tested against Ebola viruses…. However, it is important to note that the Ebola virus is an enveloped virus. Enveloped viruses in general are easily killed or inactivated by alcohol.”
The complaint alleges, “The FDA determined that [Gojo’s] statements regarding the efficacy of the Products to combat Ebola, norovirus, influenza, absenteeism and common colds make the claim that the Products are ‘intended to for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease … because they are intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.’”
The complaint claims, “There are no credible scientific studies that link killing or decreasing bacteria on the skin with preventing any of the conditions [Gojo] claims the Products prevent.” Not only that, it says: “The Products’ claims are beyond those permitted for topical antiseptics which the FDA has allowed.” Finally, it alleges, “No topical antiseptic products have ever been able to achieve the results [Gojo] advertises as such outcomes are beyond the ability of ethyl alcohol solution.”
The complaint alleges that the company’s claims are deceptive in more subtle ways as well: “[Gojo’s] invocation of the Ebola virus is intended to demonstrate the potency of the Products.” “Even if the Products may not be effective against Ebola, the logic goes, consumers could reasonably expect the Products to be effective at preventing diseases less serious than Ebola, which would include practically every other known disease.”