The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned Nigerians against the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers imported from Mexico.
In a public alert issued on Monday, NAFDAC Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye, said that the US Food and Drug Agency (USFDA) had placed all alcohol-based hand sanitisers from Mexico on a countrywide import alert.
She said according to the USFDA, the products were labelled as containing ethanol but were found to have methanol contamination, which is toxic and could be life-threatening if absorbed through the skin into the body system.
The NAFDAC boss said the USFDA said until it is able to review the products’ safety, it will be on its watchlist.
She said: “The USFDA has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitiser products from Mexico that were labelled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but tested positive for methanol contamination over the course of the ongoing pandemic.
“Methanol or wood alcohol is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested.
“Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitiser or other drugs.
“Under the import alert, alcohol-based hand sanitisers from Mexico offered for import are subject to heightened FDA scrutiny and the shipment may be detained.
“This marks the first time the FDA has issued a countrywide import alert for any category of drug product.”
NAFDAC said substantial methanol exposure could result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, and permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.
It warned that all persons using the products on their hands were at risk of methanol poisoning.
NAFDAC asked importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers to exercise caution and be vigilant to avoid the distribution, sale and use of methanol alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
It also warned those in possession of such products to discontinue the sale or use and to submit the stock to the nearest NAFDAC office.