A proposed class action alleges Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and SafeHands Solutions, LLC have “prey[ed] upon the crisis caused by the coronavirus” in claiming their alcohol-free SafeHands antiseptic hand sanitizer can kill 99.99 percent of germs and bacteria.
The 15-page complaint, filed in Massachusetts federal court, chides the defendants for their alleged pattern of consistently promoting, marketing and advertising the alcohol-free product as effective against the vast majority of germs amid the COVID-19 pandemic given the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has made clear hand sanitizers made with alcohol are generally more effective.
“On information and belief, the Product does not kill and/or protect against a variety of germs and/or bacteria including certain germs/bacteria that cause a variety of diseases … including certain strains of influenza, the common cold, norovirus and SARS CoV-2, the illness causing COVID-19 (i.e. coronavirus disease 19),” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit notes, however, that the FDA has indicated even alcohol-based hand sanitizers have not been proven to be effective at killing a variety of germs known to cause certain viruses. To that end, the FDA does not allow manufacturers, advertisers or sellers of even alcohol-based hand sanitizers to represent that their products will “kill” germs and/or bacteria or can prevent certain illnesses, the complaint says.
Per the lawsuit, REI and SafeHands Solutions have “prey[ed] upon the crisis caused by the coronavirus” in representing that their alcohol-free SafeHands product is effective at killing “99.99% of germs.” The case claims the defendants’ product is, in truth, substantially less effective at fighting germs given it is not made with alcohol.
According to the lawsuit, no reliable studies support the defendants’ representations that SafeHands product is a “proven” alternative to alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The case charges the defendants’ representations are “harmful, deceptive and misleading” to consumers, and have allowed the companies to increase revenues and gain a leg up on competitors off sales of the product.