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Here's the latest:
10:47 a.m.: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed all hand sanitizers from Mexico on an import alert after the regulator found 84% of hand sanitizer samples analyzed between April and December last year were out of compliance.
The FDA analysis also discovered more than half of the imported sanitizers contained methanol or 1-propanol. Methanol is toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening if ingested, while 1-propanol is considered a neurotoxin.
The import alert does not ban the products, but instead places hand sanitizers from the country under “heightened FDA scrutiny.” Inspectors must now evaluate whether the importers have evidence the products were made in accordance with U.S. rules. The FDA says it is the first “countrywide import alert for any category of drug product.”
“Consumer use of hand sanitizers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated,” Judy McMeekin, the associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the federal agency, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention co-authored an August report where 15 people who ingested the toxic hand sanitizer suffered methanol poisoning in Arizona and New Mexico last summer, including four who died. The New Mexico health department said last year three deaths from methanol ingestion were related to alcoholism. Drug and alcohol abuse disorders have heightened during COVID-19 pandemic.