KATHMANDU, Sept 17: The selling of substandard hand sanitizers is on rise in the Kathmandu Valley amid soaring demands and weak government monitoring, posing a serious risk to the people’s health.
Incidents of selling low-quality hand sanitizers have exposed the consumers’ vulnerability to buying such products. A study carried out by the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) two weeks ago also showed that around 45 percent of the hand sanitizers being sold in the local market are unfit for use.
The Department of Drug Administration (DDA) on Wednesday imposed a ban on sanitizers manufactured by four companies — one each from China and India and two domestic manufacturers.
The regulator has invalidated Opacel Non Washing Antibacterial Solution from a Gwangju-based Chinese company, Pamacare Hand Sanitizer from RL Corp, India, Sasa Hand Sanitizer from Sampada Healthcare, Lalitpur, and Unicare Hand Sanitizer from Shreenath Herbal, Kathmandu. These products have been found to contain methanol, a type of poisonous alcoholic product, which is against the government-set standard for the product.
Just a few days ago, the DDA banned Instant Hand Sanitizer of Nepal Kayakalpa Udhyog, Bhaktapur. Likewise, Hygiene Soap and Chemical Pvt Ltd, Adhar Chemicals and Food Industry Pvt Ltd, Search Chem Cum Herbal Products and Suryamukhi Health Products also faced similar action from the government’s regulatory body.
Handwashing and sanitizing have been identified among the best measures in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Following the pandemic, the government has enforced ‘standards of alcohol-based instant hand sanitizer 2020’, which has recognized sanitizers with at least 70 percent ethanol (ethyl alcohol) fit for use.
However, many companies are taking undue advantage of the spiked market demand for the product, and have been using poisonous alcohol in the disinfectant. Apart from this, the selling of fake sanitizers is also rampant in the poorly-regulated domestic market. Last June, the Metropolitan Police Crime Division seized a large amount of counterfeit sanitizers from Kathmandu-16, in which an Indian citizen was accused of producing the fake product.
Since the government imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 24, many domestic drugs manufacturers, including the multinational companies like Dabur Nepal, have been producing and selling hand sanitizers in the local market. The state-owned Nepal Drugs Limited has also participated in the race. In addition, some local governments have also been collaborating with health institutions to produce face masks and hand sanitizers.