Hand Sanitizer Testing

Due to the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, much attention is being focused on the use of hand sanitizers as part of one’s personal hygiene program in an attempt to safeguard health. As a result, the continuing manufacturing, testing and availability of these products is of paramount concern to consumers and to the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The regulatory status of hand sanitizer products is undergoing radical change concurrent with the COVID-19 crisis. That is why it is of the utmost importance that manufacturers and owners of hand sanitizer products understand this changing regulatory landscape so as to avoid product recalls and financial loss.

How Can CPT℠ Assist?

CPT℠ Labs can provide strategic planning assistance, regulatory guidance and testing services that are appropriate for launching OTC consumer hand sanitizer products in accordance with the Final Rule.

We can also assist compounding pharmacies and GMP manufacturers launch alcohol-based hand sanitizers under FDA’s “temporary” policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

CPT℠’s state-of-the-art Analytical Chemistry and Microbiology Laboratories are professionally staffed and stand ready to assist in whatever your needs may be. Contact us at your convenience.

Request a quote to test your hand sanitizer.

Regulatory Status of Hand Sanitizers in the US

Here in the US, hand sanitizers are regulated as drug products. Nearly all hand sanitizers marketed for consumer use are Over-the Counter (OTC) Drug products. Such products require compliance with the OTC Drug Monograph for “Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for OTC Human Use” found in 21 CFR Part 310. Hand sanitizers intended for use without water are simply referred to as consumer antiseptic rubs.

Historically, OTC hand sanitizers distributed within the US have employed thirty-one different active ingredients, partly due to the fact that the OTC Drug Monograph for this category had never been “finalized”. In the absence of a final regulation, for years FDA has been practicing ‘enforcement discretion’ with regard to the myriad product formulations, meaning that they chose not to take action against any product unless a health or safety risk was identified. Such was the case with Hexachlorophene which was removed from the US OTC market in 1972.

OTC Drug Monograph Final Rule – Effective April 12, 2020

On April 12, 2019 FDA issued a Final Rule regarding the OTC Drug Monograph for “Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for OTC Human Use”. With this final rule come several major changes which affect all manufacturers and owners of hand sanitizer products. The major changes found in the final rule are as follows:

  • FDA has not yet accepted (approved) any Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) for inclusion in the OTC Drug Monograph for Consumer Antiseptic Rubs since suitable information has not yet been submitted which FDA feels will allow them to conclude any as being Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) and Generally Regarded as Effective (GRAE).
  • Of the 31 possible active ingredients which had previously been used or proposed for use in OTC consumer antiseptic rubs, FDA has now ruled 28 ineligible for inclusion in the Monograph. Products containing any of these 28 active ingredients may no longer be placed into interstate commerce starting April 12, 2020.
  • FDA is deferring action on the 3 remaining API’s (Ethanol, IPA and Benzalkonium) for use in consumer antiseptic rubs saying they are the only API’s that are  eligible candidates for inclusion in the Monograph but that they have still not been officially accepted since their GRAS/GRAE status has yet to be fully demonstrated.
  • FDA provides testing requirements that sponsors must conduct if they wish to submit data supporting the GRAS/GRAE status of any of the three eligible API’s. This required testing includes:

a. In Vitro testing which includes either Minimum Bactericidal Concentration (MBC) or Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) and Time-Kill testing using the bacteria specified in the 2016 Proposed Rule (Federal Register Vol.81, No 126 – Thursday, June 30, 2016).

b. In Vivo human clinical testing comprised of 2 pivotal studies conducted on at least 100 subjects, at two different/independent test sites using both Positive and Negative controls.

  • FDA does not define any requirements for final formulation testing. The following statement is found in FDA’s response to Comment 10 within the Final Rule:

“In this document (Final Rule), we do not find any active ingredients GRAS/GRAE for use as a consumer antiseptic rub. As a result, this document does not specifically address requirements for anticipated final formulation testing. The testing requirements for finally formulated products containing one of the three deferred active ingredients will be addressed after one or more of the active ingredients are found to be GRAS/GRAE for use in consumer antiseptic rub products.”

What are the take-aways from the Consumer Antiseptic Rub Final Rule?

1. Starting April 12, 2020 only those hand sanitizers containing one of the following three “eligible” active ingredients may be placed into interstate commerce: Ethyl Alcohol (“Alcohol”), Isopropyl Alcohol or Benzalkonium Chloride.

2. FDA will defer any action against OTC hand sanitizer products conforming with the Final Rule, pending receipt of suitable information that will support FDA’s determining GRAS/GRAE status for any (or all) of the three “eligible” active ingredients.

3. FDA encourages industry to submit data conforming with the In Vitro and In Vivo testing requirements stated in the Final Rule which may be used in support of granting GRAS/GRAE status to any or all of the three “eligible” active ingredients.

4. Hand sanitizers are drug products requiring the conducting of GMP-compliant testing and stability studies however FDA currently declines to specify the testing that would be deemed appropriate for final formulations of consumer antiseptic rubs.

“Temporary” FDA Policy On Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the rising demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizers, FDA issued two (2) Guidance Documents in March 2020 which include policy for temporarily relaxing certain requirements for the manufacturing/compounding of hand sanitizers for consumer usage containing either Ethyl Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol, so long as the products conform to the formulations, labeling, and other requirements provided within both Guidance Documents. The Guidance Documents are entitled “Policy for Temporary Compounding of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency” and “Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19)”.

These temporary policies apply to legally registered compounding pharmacies under the direction of a licensed Pharmacist and to FDA-registered GMP manufacturing facilities. Although certain requirements such as the conducting of stability studies and process validation are waived under this temporary policy, the compounder/manufacturer is still required to conduct accurate assay testing for the active ingredient in each batch prior to its release to the public.