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DCGI notice to HUL over sanitizer ad

DCGI said HUL’s claim is ‘false’ as a topical application product cannot offer or boost immunity against germs

NEW DELHI : The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has served a show cause notice to Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) over an advertisement of its Lifebuoy brand of hand sanitizer.

HUL claimed in its advertisement that the Lifebuoy immunity-boosting hand sanitizer improves immunity, thus helping fight coronavirus.

However, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) V.G. Somani said in a notice to the company that Lifebuoy’s ads in television and social media contain “misleading claims" of it being an “immunity booster" and that a mere application of the hand sanitizer on exposed skin gives immunity for 10 hours.

Mint has reviewed a copy of the notice.

The DCGI said HUL’s claim is “false" as a topical application product cannot offer or boost immunity against germs.

“Lifebuoy Immunity Boosting Hand Sanitizer contains only 1% Niacinamide. A minuscule level of Niacinamide is absorbed through skin, which does not trigger or boost immunological response by human body and is insufficient to make any improvement or boost immunological response in human body to fight viruses like corona or even germs," it said.

“Hindustan Unilever has craftily put out a post claiming that the Lifebuoy range of products kill inactive coronavirus, which may result in misleading and incorrect assumptions. Publication of such advertisement has the potential to mislead the general public which may be against public interest in the present prevailing situation," it added.

The DCGI has asked Hindustan Unilever why action should not be taken against the company for violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Drugs and Cosmetics. Rules, 1945.

The DCGI had issued a similar notice to Hindustan Unilever in June for the Lifebuoy Virus Fighter soap, which the company claimed had anti-covid-19 therapeutic properties while being a cosmetic.

At the time, the DCGI said that while the product in question was licensed as a cosmetic under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, it was being advertised as a drug, which is a violation of the law.

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