Hand sanitizers made by Vi-Jon, Inc. are incapable of killing 99.99% of germs and are ineffective against certain disease-causing microbes, a proposed class action alleges.
According to the 26-page complaint, Vi-Jon’s ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer products, sold under the CVS Health, equate (Walmart), Germ-X and Walgreen Co. brand names, do not work in protecting against norovirus, protozoa and bacterial spores, a significant concern given the microbes comprise more than 0.01 percent of germs.
In all, the material representation that Vi-Jon-made hand sanitizer can kill “99.99%” of germs and bacteria in as little as 15 seconds is false and misleading, and the defendant “omits material information” concerning the product’s limitations in claiming it can kill nearly all germs, the lawsuit says.
“The Products, for example, are generally ineffective at killing norovirus which, according to the Center for Disease Control (‘CDC’), accounts for approximately 50% of all outbreaks of food-related illness in the United States,” the complaint, filed in California federal court, reads.
The lawsuit’s filing comes at a time when consumers have relied more than ever on accurate and truthful information with regard to the capabilities of germ-killing products. The case alleges Vi-Jon’s hand sanitizers are ineffective against not only norovirus, which reportedly affects millions each year, but against disease-causing germ strains such as poliovirus, polyomavirus, hand foot and mouth disease virus, HPV, cryptosporidium, enterococci, influenza A and hepatitis A.
Vi-Jon has not conducted any efficacy research or scientifically valid studies with regard to all germs in order to substantiate its “99.99%” effectiveness claim, the suit says. Further, the hand sanitizers’ active ingredient, ethyl alcohol, is incapable of denaturing certain microbes, according to the case. While certain viruses can be inactivated by ethyl alcohol, non-enveloped viruses and microbes with a hard protein shell are far more difficult to combat with hand sanitizer, the lawsuit claims.
Moreover, the condition of a user’s hands may compromise the effectiveness of hand sanitizer as ethyl alcohol may be ineffective when hands are dirty, grimy or greasy, the case adds. Broader still, the complaint claims the directions to use the defendant’s hand sanitizer, rubbing a single application of the product on the hands until dry, evidence an exposure time too short to inactivate certain microbes given ethyl alcohol evaporates quickly.
“Evaluated alone or collectively, the Products are ineffective against more than .01% of ‘germs’ and therefore the uniform Representation that they kill 99.99% of germs is false and misleading,” the plaintiff argues.
Consumers relied on Vi-Jon’s representations when buying its hand sanitizers and would not have bought the products, or would have paid less, “had they known the truth,” the complaint says.