Red flag raised on hand sanitiser

The Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that a hand sanitiser tested by the Laboratory of Pharmacy Section, Department of Scientific Services, MoH was found to contain an undeclared chemical exceeding the safety limit.

The Smart Cleansing Hand Antivirus Alcohol Gel, whose manufacturer is unknown, was found to contain methanol, which can be potentially hazardous to human health.

Methanol is a chemical used in the pharmaceutical and industrial setting 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 turned to formic acid in the human liver.

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

Following the findings, this product is disallowed to be imported and sold in Brunei Darussalam. Members of the public who have purchased or used this product are advised to discontinue use immediately.

They should also consult a medical practitioner if they feel unwell or experience undesirable reactions as a result of using it.

Members of the public are also advised to practise frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When using a hand sanitiser, be sure to wash hands with soap and water as soon as available.

Hand sanitisers should be kept away from children and not be used without adult supervision. Always follow the instructions on the label.

Members of the public involved in the retail of this product (including online retail such as through Facebook) are hereby 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 from 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 MoH calls for public cooperation to report to the Compliance and Licensing Section if such product is still found on the market. The MoH will continue the post-market surveillance of hand sanitisers and disinfectants sold to ensure its quality and safety.

For further information and communication, the public may contact the Compliance and Licensing Section at 2393298 (extension 208), e-mail [email protected]; go directly to 1st Floor, Compliance and Licensing Section, Department of Pharmaceutical Services’ Building, Kampong Madaras, Mukim Gadong ‘A’; or call Darussalam line 123.