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Florida governor touted alcohol-free hand sanitizer not recommended by the CDC

Posted at 12:13 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 15:34:44-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — A hand sanitizer made in Florida and touted by the state's governor, Ron DeSantis, during a news conference does not use ingredients recommended by the CDC as effective against coronavirus.

Sarasota-based Durisan has billed its products as "the longest-lasting, water-based, alcohol-free hand sanitizer."

The company has also seen its business boom as it continues to claim its hand sanitizer helps protect against COVID-19. But medical experts have raised questions about those claims.

The CDC recommends hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to be effective against the coronavirus, but Durisan has no alcohol in its solution.

Marie Bourgeois, a toxicology researcher with the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, said alcohol-free hand sanitizer is not as effective.

Benzalkonium chloride, the active ingredient in Durisan and other alcohol-free hand sanitizers, is approved by the FDA, but there's a catch, according to Bougeois.

"It's not approved for use against coronavirus," Bourgeois said.

Yet DeSantis plugged the product and demonstrated how to use Durisan's alcohol-free hand sanitizer spray during a news conference on March 25.

At the time, DeSantis held up the hand sanitizer and told the public he keeps the spray on his desk.

"These are the ones that we did. I think because these aren't what people look for and so Amazon was able to deliver these," DeSantis said. "So Durisan — I don't know where it comes from, but it's pretty good stuff."

The governor's office did not respond to multiple requests for an explanation as to why DeSantis ecommended Durisan hand sanitizer to millions of Floridians.

When asked if the Durisan is recommending people not follow CDC guidelines, the company's marketing manager said no.

"We're just explaining that we have a broader kill spectrum, so we kill more pathogens than your alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially in the area of bacteria," Alexandra Lin added.

But when asked why Durisan's alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not on the CDC recommendation list, Lin said it is because the CDC has not done testing on the products.

Durisan isn't the only product raising questions during the pandemic. A spokesperson for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said her office received more than 1,000 complaints about other hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies and disinfectants. The spokesperson said Moody is not investigating Durisan.

This story was originally published by Kylie McGivern on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.