Four US deaths tied to methanol-based hand sanitisers

NEW YORK (AP) — Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can help stop the coronavirus from spreading, but drinking the products turned out to be deadly for four people in the United States (US).

Health officials reported this week that 15 adults were poisoned in Arizona and New Mexico in May and June after drinking hand sanitiser. Besides the four who died, three had ongoing vision problems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

All had consumed sanitisers containing methanol, or wood alcohol. The active ingredient that kills germs in legitimate sanitisers is ethyl alcohol, which is consumable. But some companies have been replacing it with poisonous methanol, which is used in antifreeze.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning in June about Mexican-made hand sanitiser gel that it said contained large amounts of methanol. Since then, the FDA has expanded the list.