The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has released a list of nine brands of hand sanitizers that contain methanol or wood alcohol, deemed to be potentially toxic. The hand sanitizers are manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico. There has been an unprecedented surge in the demand for hand sanitizers owing to the outbreak of the fatal COVID-19.

Following testing, the FDA found the presence of methanol or wood alcohol, which can be toxic if absorbed through the skin or consumed. Substantial methanol exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, permanent blindness and seizures, among other harmful effects.

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In an advisory issued on Friday, the agency said it had tested samples of two products, Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ, and found they had 81 percent and 28 percent methanol, also known as wood alcohol.

"Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," said the agency.

The agency further suggested that if exposed to the hand sanitizers with methanol, one should immediately seek immediate treatment.

FDA Calls For Disposal of Flagged Sanitizers

The FDA further urged the consumers to dispose of sanitizers listed in the warning in appropriate hazardous waste containers and not flush them or pour them down the drain.

Speaking to The New York Times, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, said that even though methanol itself is not significantly toxic, it is formaldehyde and formic acid, the metabolites produced by the breakdown of methanol in the body, which could prove deadly.

"Exposure to the metabolites can lead to a condition known as metabolic acidosis, a dangerous accumulation of acid in the bloodstream, which is toxic to the organs and tissues in the body, leading to seizures, kidney failure, blindness, low blood pressure and fatal cardiac arrhythmias," Dr. Glatter said adding that children are most at risk if they ingest methanol, but it can also be harmful if they rub it on their skin or inhale it.

Manufacturer Says They Were Not Informed by FDA

In its report, FDA mentioned that it had asked Eskbiochem SA de CV of Mexico, the manufacturer of the hand sanitizers, to remove its products from the market on June 17. However, the company failed to respond.

On the other hand, responding to the allegations, Alexander Escamillo, a representative for Eskbiochem, told the outlet that they came to know of the agency's warning only on Monday. Another person who had access to the company registered it with the F.D.A, he said, adding that the company "did not register ourselves."

Refusing to reveal the identity of the person, Escamillo said that they don't know how to log into the company's FDA profile. "We would never do that, send a toxic chemical maliciously. The company would take action against the broker," added the representative.

The list of the hand sanitizers flagged by the agency as potentially dangerous products are:

  • · All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • · Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • · CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • · Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • · The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • · CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • · CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
    • · CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
    • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)