Hand sanitizer companies making false claims about the efficacy of their products against COVID-19 may put consumers at risk. As coronavirus spread throughout Nevada and all the U.S., the demand for hand sanitizer skyrocketed. CNBC.com reports that the U.S. saw a 73% increase in the purchasing of hand sanitizers in the four weeks leading up to February 22, 2020. Consumers use such products to help protect them from germs, in addition to washing their hands or in place of doing so when they do not have access to soap or water. Some product manufacturers have taken advantage of the public’s fears to see their sales numbers increase.
The Danger of Deceptive Hand Sanitizer Claims
False claims on hand sanitizer advertisements or labels may put consumers at risk. Since the onslaught of the pandemic, several hand sanitizer companies have marketed their products as able to eliminate high percentages of coronavirus germs, provide protection against COVID-19 spores for an extended period, or both. Taking manufacturers and sellers for their words, consumers may develop a false sense of security. Consequently, they may relax their hand washing or hand sanitizing regimens, potentially putting them at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.
Federal Agencies Cracking Down
As the demand for hand sanitizer increased, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stepped up its policing of such products making false statements about their effectiveness. Administration regulators have issued warning letters to several hand sanitizer manufacturers, directing them to adjust their advertising statements. Depending on the products’ ingredients, the FDA may require certain approvals and labeling conditions to allow their sale in the U.S. In the case of at least one brand of sanitizer, the administration suggested the product’s labeling went beyond describing the general intended use to address the prevention of disease or infection from various specified pathogens.
Liability for Mislabeled Hand Sanitizer
If consumers suffer injuries or illness due to false hand sanitizer claims, they may have grounds to pursue a product liability lawsuit against the product’s manufacturer or seller. Manufacturers and sellers have a duty of care to consumers. As such, people may hold them liable for injuries or illnesses resulting from the use of products when the manufacturers or sellers knowingly made misleading claims about the hand sanitizers’ effectiveness in preventing COVID-19. The court may see fit to award injured consumers compensatory damages, including those for lost wages, associated medical costs, and pain and suffering.