The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added hundreds of hand sanitizer manufacturers to meet demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, but is warning they make the products less palatable in a bid to discourage people from drinking the liquid.
More than 1,500 new makers of alcohol-based hand sanitizers have registered with the agency to improve the safety and supply of the product.
Officials have suggested adding denatured alcohol to hand sanitizers, which renders a bitter taste and makes the liquid less appealing for consumption.
It comes on the heels of President Donald Trump‘s recent comments on whether injecting disinfectants might treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
This raised concerns that frightened people could poison themselves with untested treatments – and led to an uptick in calls to poison control centers across the US.
More than 1,500 new hand sanitizer manufacturers have registered with the FDA to meet demand during the pandemic. Pictured: Nicole Assouline (left) uses hand sanitizer after tending to a patient at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, April 11
The agency has asked manufacturers add denatured alcohol to hand sanitizers, which renders a bitter taste and makes the liquid less appealing. Pictured: A patient is brought into the emergency entrance of NYU Langone, April 9
Poison control centers have seen an uptick in children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizers found in their homes. Pictured: A medical worker pushes a stretcher outside Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York, March 26
‘It is important that hand sanitizer be manufactured in a way that makes them unpalatable to people, especially young children, and that they are appropriately labeled to discourage accidental or intentional ingestion,’ FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Monday.
‘Hand sanitizers are not proven to treat COVID-19, and like other products meant for external use, are not for ingestion, inhalation, or intravenous use.’
Demand for hand sanitizers has soared after experts advised people to clean their hands thoroughly to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus, which has led to more than 55,000 deaths in the US.
The FDA said adding denatured alcohol to hand sanitizers renders a bitter taste making the liquid less appealing for consumption.
Fears of contracting coronavirus have driven up calls to poison control centers in the US by one-fifth, a new report finds.
From January 2020 to March 2020, calls have increased 16 percent from this time in 2018 and 20 percent from this time last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in a report last week Monday.
In one case, the CDC wrote about a pre-schooler that was found unresponsive by his or her parents and was rushed by ambulance the hospital.
Her family said she accidentally ingested some of a 64-ounce bottle of ethanol-based hand sanitizer in the kitchen, became dizzy, fell and hit her head.
Additionally, calls to the National Poison Data System related to hand sanitizer increased by 79 percent compared to March 2019, the FDA said.
A majority of them were about unintentional exposure to children aged 5 and younger, the FDA said.
The agency recommended that the products carry child safety warnings and information to get medical help upon accidental consumption.
In its statement, the FDA recounted the incident this month in which a 13-year-old child drank hand sanitizer packaged in a liquor bottle from a distiller.
Because the sanitizer was not denatured, the child reportedly said the liquid tasted like normal drinking alcohol.
The FDA, which in March relaxed rules to allow pharmacists to supply alcohol-based hand sanitizers without prescriptions, also said it was taking measures to help ensure continued supply of the product.