The manufacturer of Purell hand sanitizer is facing a new class-action lawsuit accusing it of making “false and misleading” claims that the product can kill “99.99% of illness causing germs.”
The latest of several such suits against GOJO Industries, Purell’s parent company, comes amid shortages of the product because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 285,000 worldwide.
This suit, which represents four people in California, Michigan, Massachusetts and Oregon, was filed in the Northern District of Ohio on March 13.
Per court documents, the suit says that by citing statistics on its product – such as claiming a single "squirt" of its sanitizer is twice as effective as its competitors – GOJO Industries creates the impression that the effectiveness of its products "have a reliable scientific basis,” when in fact, there is “no sound scientific evidence to support the statistics or other claims.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control advises using hand sanitizer only when soap and water is unavailable.
The suit invokes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s January warning against the company, which stated the company made a litany of unverified claims on its websites and social media including that it could prevent Ebola, MRSA, VRE, norovirus and the common flu, among other illnesses.
"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," the FDA wrote in the letter.
Carey Jaros, the president and CEO of GOJO Industries, said in a statement that "these lawsuits are without merit," but cannot comment further because of "pending legal action."
"We stand 100% behind our products," he said.
In January, GOJO Industries responded to the FDA allegations by updating its websites and other digital promotional material.
This suit follows concerns over profiteering from hand sanitizer shortages, as well as a coronavirus scare in a GOJO Industries plant.
Contributing: Grace Hauck, USA TODAY. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Purell maker GOJO hit with class-action over 'misleading' customers