This week, weed businesses like Valens GroWorks, Corp. (TSXV: VLNS) and Neptune Wellness Solutions, Inc. (NASDAQ: NEPT) said they would be producing alcohol-based hand sanitizers to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mass buying of personal cleanliness products has led to mass shortages, and companies of usually unrelated stripes have shifted operations to keep up with demand.
However, as health officials continually remind the public to take every precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19, consumers should be checking labels to see if what they buy is actually effective against this particular virus.
Specifically, major health authorities only recommend hand sanitizers with greater than 60 per cent ethanol or 70 per cent isopropanol as active ingredients.
Other popular, plant-based formulations with benzalkonium chloride as their main active ingredient, are specifically not recommended.
“Benzalkonium chloride, along with both ethanol and isopropanol, is deemed eligible by FDA for use in the formulation of healthcare personnel hand rubs,” reads guidance on the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. “However, available evidence indicates benzalkonium chloride has less reliable activity against coronavirus than either of the alcohols.”
Under normal circumstances, alternative formulations are totally acceptable for use, but our governments have stressed repeatedly the importance of strictly adhering to the guidance of health officials to prevent overloading our healthcare systems.
On Wednesday, Valens said it’s going to produce and donate 40,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to frontline health care workers in B.C., Alberta and Ontario. The company said it plans to give 10,000 bottles to public-facing workers at Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies across Canada.
“Valens is following the FDA and WHO guidelines for the formula,” a spokesperson told Mugglehead in an email. “The hand sanitizer is 70 per cent isopropyl by volume.”
Valens has also been donating personal protective equipment from its own supply — including gloves, gowns and sanitizing wipes — to healthcare workers and plans to donate another incoming shipment.
CEO Tyler Robson said his company recognizes the urgency in providing assistance in this critical phase of the pandemic.
“We consider it our corporate responsibility to leverage our existing extraction and production capabilities to distribute products that have the potential to fight the transmission of this virus,” he said.
Neptune issued a statement Thursday saying it had completed a submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for registering one of its stateside facilities as an over-the-counter drug manufacturer to prepare alcohol-based hand sanitizers. It recently received similar approval to commercialize antiseptic hand rubs from Health Canada.
“We anticipate initial shipments over the next several weeks and intend to fully ramp up production over the coming months,” CEO Michael Cammarata said in the statement.
Neptune’s hand rub formulations are listed on its website.