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FDA Says Hand Sanitizer Protection Claims for MRSA Unproven

April 21, 2011
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Don't believe claims that hand sanitizers and antiseptic products prevent MRSA infections. These statements are unproven, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in aconsumer alert.


MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterium that can cause severe—even life-threatening—infections that do not respond to standard treatment with the antibiotic methicillin.

The FDA is cracking down on companies that break federal law by promoting their products as preventing MRSA infections and other diseases without agency review and approval.

“Consumers are being misled if they think these products you can buy in a drug store or from other places will protect them from a potentially deadly infection,” said Deborah Autor, compliance director at FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in the alert posted on the
FDA’s web site.

The FDA wants consumers to watch out for unproven product claims, too—whether they buy a product from a retail store or through the Internet. Examples of unproven claims found on product labels are:

• kills over 99.9% of MRSA

• helps prevent skin infections caused by MRSA and other germs

• is effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens, including MRSA

According to the FDA, one company claims that its hand sanitizing lotion prevents infection from the bacterium E. coli and the H1N1 flu virus. And another firm claims its “patented formulation of essential plant oils” kills the bacterium Salmonella. These claims are also unproven and, therefore, illegal, said the FDA.

“FDA has not approved any products claiming to prevent infection from MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, or H1N1 flu, which a consumer can just walk into a store and buy,” said Autor. “These products give consumers a false sense of protection.”

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