Gojo Industries, a small family-owned company in Akron, Ohio, that started making hand cleaners in the 1940s and invented Purell in 1988, has significantly increased production in recent weeks, according to Samantha Williams, a spokeswoman.
She added that the current levels of demand, while high, were comparable to past moments, like the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003 or even influenza outbreaks.
“We have added shifts and have team members working overtime — in accordance with our plans for situations like this,” she said in a statement.
Purell says its spray disinfectants, which are used for household cleaning and are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, have demonstrated effectiveness against “a strain of the human coronavirus.” But the Federal Drug Administration, which regulates hand sanitizers, sent a warning letter to Gojo in January, telling the company to stop making marketing claims that its hand sanitizers could prevent infections from things like the Ebola virus, norovirus and MRSA. The F.D.A. said those claims were not supported by “any adequate and well-controlled studies.”
Gojo’s website states that its hand sanitizers are 70 percent ethyl alcohol.
Bath & Body Works, the scented bath product chain owned by L Brands, said on an earnings call this week that it was seeing a surge in demand for hand sanitizer, which accounts for 5 percent of its business.
“It is presently growing at a very high rate for reasons we would all understand,” Stuart Burgdoerfer, the chief financial officer of L Brands, said.
Michael DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS Health, said that demand was causing “temporary shortages” at some locations and that those stores were being restocked as quickly as possible.