HUL gets DCGI notice over misleading Immunity Boosting Hand Sanitizer ad to prevent COVID-19
New Delhi: Taking into account the violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945; the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), V G Somani has issued a show-cause notice to Hindustan Unilever Limited over the "misleading" advertisement of Lifebuoy Immunity Boosting Hand Sanitizer, claiming to prevent COVID-19.
In the ad, the company claimed that Lifebuoy immunity-boosting hand sanitizer improves immunity which in turn leads to COVID-19 prevention.
According to DCGI, while the Hand Sanitizer under scanner was licensed as a cosmetic under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, it was being advertised as a drug, which is a violation of the law.
In this view, the drug controller sought why action should not be taken against the company for the said violation.
Giving an in-depth clarification on the definition of immunity, DCGI highlighted that Section 3(b). of Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 says, that immunity is a condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing the development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products, adding that HUL's claim attracts the given definition.
Further, Dr V G Somani stated that Lifebuoy's ads in television and social media contain "misleading claims" of it being an "immunity booster" and that a mere application of the hand sanitizer on exposed skin gives immunity for 10 hours.
DCGI added that HUL's claim is "false" as a topical application product cannot offer or boost immunity against germs.
"Lifebuoy Immunity Boosting Hand Sanitizer contains only 1% Niacinamide. A minuscule level of Niacinamide is absorbed through the skin, which does not trigger or boost immunological response by the human body and is insufficient to make any improvement or boost immunological response in the human body to fight viruses like corona or even germs," the notice read.
"Hindustan Unilever has craftily put out a post claiming that the Lifebuoy range of products kills inactive coronavirus, which may result in misleading and incorrect assumptions. Publication of such advertisement has the potential to mislead the general public which may be against the public interest in the present prevailing situation," it added.
The FMCG giant was pulled by DCGI earlier in June for a similar violation, where, it claimed that Lifebuoy Virus Fighter soap had anti-COVID-19 therapeutic properties, instead, it is cosmetic, reports live Mint