SARASOTA, Fla. — A hand sanitizer made in Florida and touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a demonstration during a news conference does not use ingredients recommended by the CDC as effective against coronavirus, an ABC Action News investigation uncovered.
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 — specifically against coronavirus," said Bourgeois.
Yet Gov. Ron 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," the governor said. "So Durisan — I don't know where it comes from, but it's pretty good stuff."
The I-Team reached out multiple times to the governor's office for an explanation as to why he recommended Durisan hand sanitizer to millions of Floridians. His office has yet to respond to the requests for comment.
When I-Team Investigator Kylie McGivern asked Alexandra Lin of Durisan whether the company is recommending people not follow CDC guidelines, Lin said, "Absolutely not."
"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," Lin added.
But when asked why Durisan's alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not on the CDC recommendation list, Lin told ABC Action News 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 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.
Anyone suspicious of deceptive business practices is encouraged to call (866) 9NO-SCAM or submit a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.
The most effective disinfectants for use against coronavirus?
- The CDC recommends people wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- If hand washing is not an option, the CDC recommends hand sanitizer solutions with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- For disinfection, the CDC recommends using a solution of diluted household bleach -- just be sure to check the product has not passed its expiration date.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published an online list of disinfectants approved for use against coronavirus.
You can search by product name, company name, active ingredient or EPA registration number. If the first two sets of numbers on the product match a number on the list, then the product meets the EPA's criteria for use against COVID-19.