Germ-X and GOJO Prepare for Class-Action Lawsuits for Deceiving Customers
The spread of the coronavirus has produced fear and anxiety in the hearts of Americans. Popular television doctors on the major news networks have been addressing the concerns of the American public by advising them on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Mostly, you want to wash your hands with liquid anti-bacterial soap or use regular hand soap with a liquid sanitizer to kill the virus. Regular hand soap will kill the virus if you wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds.
Because there is a limited supply of hand sanitizer, producers of consumable alcoholic drinks are ramping up production to get more products to the market. Alcohol is the main active ingredient inside the hand sanitizer.
Some consumers are noticing that the sanitizers do not kill as many germs as claimed on the front of the bottle. Additionally, it is problematic that there has been a hurried rush to buy the remaining sanitizer products left on the shelves of popular grocery store chains like Walmart, Walgreens, Costco, and Sam’s Club. Most grocery shelves have been wiped clean of any remaining available products.
Theresa Haas, Susan Lara, and Geraldine David claimed that they were duped into purchasing Germ-X products. The company practiced deception by marketing hand sanitizers that could kill the flu virus and floating bacteria. The class-action lawsuit claims that Germ-X can prevent an attack of the immune system by the COVID-19 virus.
The brief for David, et al. v. Vi-Jon Inc. d/b/a Germ-X that attorneys filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California state, “Defendant misleads consumers into believing its products can prevent disease or infection from pathogens such as coronavirus and flu along with other claims that go beyond the general intended use of a topical alcohol-based hand sanitizer.”
Even online at Walmart.com, Germ-X noted underneath its products a description that says its hand sanitizer provides “Coronavirus/Flu Protection.”
This misrepresentation of hand sanitizer products caused the plaintiffs financial harm since the deceptive advertising caused the plaintiffs to pay more for the Germ-X hand sanitizer because of price gouging. The plaintiffs are seeking other consumers who wish to join the class-action lawsuit. For restitution, the plaintiffs are seeking disgorgement, injunctive relief, court costs, and attorney fees. Abbas Kazerounian of Kazerouni Law Group APC represents the proposed Class.
With over 75 million Americans on lockdown because of the coronavirus, plaintiffs have filed two separate lawsuits against Purell in the same federal court. The first class-action lawsuit was filed in February 2020. It claimed that Purell “had broken the public's trust” by marketing products without any sound scientific research.
Four plaintiffs filed the most recent lawsuit in the Northeastern District of Ohio on March 13. GOJO, who makes the popular Purell hand sanitizer, claims that the product is 99.99% effective against killing viruses and bacterial like Ebola and norovirus that causes illnesses. However, the labeling on the bottle is misleading, since it points to verified scientific research. But scientists haven’t done any research on such claims.
The FDA Hand Sanitizer Medical Studies
The FDA — Food and Drug Administration — sent a letter to GOJO warning the company to stop making false claims and egregious advertising to unbeknown consumers on January 17, 2020. There are no “adequate and well-controlled studies” that their hand sanitizer can prevent viruses like the COVID-19 and the flu.
Purell and Germ-X have nearly the same ingredients. The products use a high concentration of ethyl alcohol at levels between 60% and 70%, which supposedly fights viruses and bacteria.
According to the letter, “PURELL Healthcare Advanced Hand Sanitizers are unapproved new drugs in violation of section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act or Act), 21 U.S.C. 355(a). Portions of the letter state:
“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. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a preventive measure for flu prevention.”
Also, according to the document, the “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.”
In the face of such lawsuits, demand for hand sanitizers remains unprecedented. So far, hand sanitizer purchases are up 73%. Individuals are now stockpiling merchandise for price gouging. The future is uncertain for a market that is dependent upon personal hygiene consumables for personal safety.
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