Red flag raised on hand sanitisers, disinfectant

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has raised the alarm on three types of hand sanitisers and a disinfectant which have been tested and found to contain an undeclared chemical exceeding the safety limit according to the product types. The test were run by the Laboratory of Pharmacy Section, Department of Scientific Services, MoH.

The affected hand sanitisers are Cosmo Instant Hand Sanitizer Antiseptic/Disinfectant Germ Protection with Moisturizer & Vitamin E (65ml), manufactured by Premier Cosmetics & Toiletries Industries LLC Dubai, UAE (batch number 24008N); Primo Hand Gel Hand Sanitizer Original (500ml), manufactured by PT JC Utama Teknik, Indonesia (batch number 0414.0050 ABJBBJ); and Primo Hand Gel Hand Sanitizer Green Tea (500ml), manufactured by PT JC Utama Teknik, Indonesia (batch number 0414.0018 ABJBBJ).

Meanwhile, the affected disinfectant product is Robinson Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (250ml), manufactured in the United States (batch number 14899).

All four products were found to contain Methanol exceeding their safety limit. Methanol can cause adverse effects potentially hazardous when not monitored and used correctly.

Methanol is a chemical used in pharmaceutical and industrial as a solvent, as a denaturant of ethanol, in the production of formaldehyde and as a solvent in paint and varnishes.

Exposure to Methanol can occur through ingestion, inhalation and dermal absorption. When a person is exposed to methanol, most of it would be converted to formaldehyde and consequently will be turned to formic acid in the human liver.

Signs of Methanol intoxication includes rapid and shallow breathing, nausea and vomiting, as well as visual disturbances. It can also lead to blindness.

Following these findings, the products are not allowed to be imported and sold in Brunei Darussalam.

Members of the public who purchased or used these products are advised to discontinue use immediately. They should also consult a medical practitioner if they feel unwell or experience undesirable reactions.

Members of the public are also advised to practise frequent hand-washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

After using hand sanitisers/handling disinfectants, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you are able to. Hand sanitisers and disinfectants should be kept away from children, and its use on children must be supervised by an adult.

Members of the public involved in the retail of these products (including online retail such as through Facebook, etc) are reminded that it is an offence under the Medicines Order 2007 and/or Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations 2007 to import and market hand sanitisers and disinfectants without prior approval issued by the MoH. The penalty for contravening these regulations upon conviction is a fine not exceeding BND5,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

The public can report to the Compliance and Licensing Section if any of these products are still found on the market.

For information, contact the Compliance and Licensing Section at 2393298 (ext 208), e-mail [email protected], go directly to 1st Floor, Compliance and Licensing Section, Department of Pharmaceutical Services’ Building in Kampong Madaras or Darussalam hotline 123.