- Delivery Method:
- VIA UPS
Recipient NameJose Luis Rodriguez
Recipient TitleGeneral Director
- Liq-E S.A. De C.V.
Calle Puerto Tampico No. 345
Col. La Fe, San Nicolas De los Garza
66477 , N.L.
- Issuing Office:
- Center for Drug Evaluation and Research | CDER
Warning Letter 320-21-12
November 19, 2020
Dear Mr. Rodriguez:
Your firm recently registered as a human drug manufacturer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted testing of drug product manufactured at your facility: consumer antiseptic hand rubs (also referred to as consumer hand sanitizers) labeled as Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer. The drug product is labeled as being manufactured at your facility, Liq-E S.A. de C.V., FEI 3010653642, at Calle Puerto Tampico No. 345, Col. La Fe, San Nicolas De los Garza, Nuevo Leon, Mexico 66477 and, following an attempted import into the United States, was detained and refused admission at the border.
The results of FDA laboratory testing demonstrated that batches of Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer drug products labeled as manufactured at your facility are adulterated within the meaning of section 501(d)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), (21 U.S.C. 351(d)(2), in that a substance was substituted wholly or in part therefor. In addition, these products are adulterated within the meaning of section 501(a)(2)(B) (21 U.S.C. 351(a)(2)(B)), in that the substitution demonstrates that the quality assurance within your facility is not functioning in accordance with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) requirements.
In addition, your OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer drug product is an unapproved new drug introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce in violation of section 505(a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 355(a) and is misbranded under sections 502(j), (a), (e), (i), (x), and (ee) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(j), (a), (e), (i), (x), and (ee). Introduction or delivery for introduction of such a product into interstate commerce is prohibited under sections 301(d) and (a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 331(d) and (a). These violations are described in more detail below.
The drug product, Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer, is labeled to contain 70% volume/volume (v/v) of the active ingredient alcohol (e.g., ethyl alcohol, ethanol). However, FDA laboratory testing of found that your hand sanitizer contained an average of 51% ethanol and 18% methanol v/v. This hand sanitizer drug product is adulterated under section 501(d)(2) of the FD&C Act in that the active ingredient of ethanol was substituted wholly or in part with methanol, a dangerous chemical when in contact with human skin or ingested.
Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects. Skin exposure to methanol can cause dermatitis, as well as transdermal absorption with systemic toxicity. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidently ingest these products, and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.
On July 7, 2020, FDA held a teleconference with you and your registered U.S. agent, Registrar Corp. We recommended you consider removing your firm’s hand sanitizer drug products currently in distribution to the U.S. market. FDA notified the public of the methanol contamination of your drugs at the following website: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol#products
On July 20, 2020, you agreed to recall all hand sanitizer manufactured between April 27, 2020 and May 8, 2020 that was distributed as noted on the following website: https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/liq-e-sa-de-cv-issues-voluntary-recall-optimus-instant-hand-sanitizer-due-potential-presence
On August 26, 2020 you confirmed to FDA that this recall encompassed all lots manufactured between April 6 and May 19, 2020 which were distributed to the United States between April 16 and May 27, 2020.
In response to this letter provide:
• A detailed investigation into how hand sanitizer drug products manufactured at your facility, and labeled as containing ethanol, were substituted in part or in whole with methanol.
• A list of all raw materials used to manufacture all of your hand sanitizer drug products, including the suppliers’ names, addresses, and contact information.
• A list of all batches of any hand sanitizer drug products shipped to the United States by your firm, and a full reconciliation of all material you distributed.
• Copies of the complete batch records for all batches distributed to the U.S.
The substitution and methanol contamination found in hand sanitizer drug products labeled as manufactured in your facility demonstrates that the quality assurance within your facility is not functioning in accord with CGMP requirements under section 501(a)(2)(B) of the FD&C Act.1
Unapproved New Drug and Misbranding Violations
OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer is a “drug” as defined by section 201(g)(1)(B) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)(B), because it is intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and/or under section 201(g)(1)(C) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1)(C), and because it is intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. Specifically, this product is intended as a consumer antiseptic hand rub.
Examples of claims observed on the OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer product label and labeling (including the product website located at www.liqesa.com, which is the URL printed on the product label) that provide evidence of the intended uses (as defined in 21 CFR 201.128) of the product include, but may not be limited to, the following:
“Instant Hand Sanitizer . . . DRUG FACTS . . . Purpose . . . Antiseptic . . . Uses[S] Hand Sanitizer to help reduce bacteria that potentially can cause disease. . . Directions . . . Place enough product on hands to cover all surfaces. Rub hands together until dry.” (product label)
“OPTIMUS Hand Sanitizer specially formulated to provide an effective, antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial action . . . Eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, fungi and viruses.” (website labeling)
This hand sanitizer product is a “new drug” within the meaning of section 201(p) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(p), because it is not generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE) for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in its labeling. New drugs may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from FDA, as described in section 505(a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 355(a), unless they are lawfully marketed under section 505G of the FD&C Act (which is not the case for this product, as further described below). No FDA-approved application pursuant to section 505 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 355, is in effect for this drug product, nor are we aware of any adequate and well-controlled clinical studies in the published literature that support a determination that your OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer drug product is GRASE for use under the conditions suggested, recommended, or prescribed in its labeling. Accordingly, this product is an unapproved new drug marketed in violation of sections 505(a) and 301(d) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C 355(a) and 331(d).
We note that over-the-counter (OTC) topical antiseptic products have been the subject of rulemaking under the Agency’s OTC Drug Review. In particular, such products were addressed in a tentative final monograph (TFM) entitled “Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use; Tentative Final Monograph for Health-Care Antiseptic Drug Products,” Proposed Rule, 59 FR 31402 (June 17, 1994) (1994 TFM), as further amended by the “Safety and Effectiveness of Consumer Antiseptics; Topical Antimicrobial Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use; Proposed Amendment of the Tentative Final Monograph; Reopening of Administrative Record,” Proposed Rule, 81 FR 42912 (June 30, 2016). Over the course of these rulemakings, three active ingredients (benzalkonium chloride, ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol) were classified as Category III for use as consumer antiseptic rub products, meaning that additional safety and effectiveness data are needed to support a determination that a drug product containing one of these active ingredients would be GRASE for use as a consumer antiseptic rub.
Section 505G of the FD&C Act, as added by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020, addresses nonprescription drugs marketed without an approved application. Under section 505G(a)(3) of the FD&C Act, drugs that were classified as Category III in a TFM that is the most recently applicable proposal or determination for such drug issued under 21 CFR Part 330 – and that were not classified in such a TFM as Category II for safety or effectiveness – are not required to have an approved application under section 505 in order to be marketed, as long as they are in conformity with the relevant conditions of use outlined in the applicable TFM, including the active ingredient, and comply with all other applicable requirements.
However, OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer does not conform to the 1994 TFM, as further amended by the 2016 Consumer Antiseptic Rub proposed rule, nor any other TFM, proposed rule, or final rule, and does not meet the conditions under section 505G(a)(3) of the FD&C Act, as added by the CARES Act, for marketing without an approved application under section 505.
According to the product label, OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer purportedly contains the active ingredient ethyl alcohol 70%. However, as previously discussed, FDA laboratory analyses revealed that samples of OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer contain ethanol in an amount that is less than the 70% declared on the label and less than the amount of ethanol described in the 1994 TFM. Such a product does not conform with the TFM or the applicable requirements for nonprescription drugs2, nor is it consistent with the formulations described in FDA’s temporary policies for hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 public health emergency3.
In addition, the labeling of OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer indicates that it provides effective antiviral, antibacterial action and eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, fungi and viruses. These labeled intended uses go beyond merely describing the general intended use of topical antiseptic as set forth in the 1994 TFM, as amended by the 2016 proposed rule, and FDA’s before-noted temporary policy.4
FDA laboratory analyses also revealed that samples of OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer contain significant concentrations of the undeclared ingredient methyl alcohol (methanol). Use of methanol as an active ingredient is not in conformance with the TFM, nor is it included in the formulations described in FDA’s Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) Guidance for Industry. Furthermore, methanol is not acceptable as an inactive ingredient in hand sanitizers. As previously discussed, methanol has significant and sometimes fatal toxic effects and, therefore, does not meet the requirements under 21 CFR 330.1(e) that a product’s inactive ingredients be safe and suitable.5
Additionally, this methanol-containing drug product, OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer, is misbranded under sections 502(j), (a), (e), (i), (x), and (ee) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(j), (a), (e), (i), (x), and (ee).
It is misbranded under section 502(j) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(j), because it is dangerous to health when used according to its labeling as a hand sanitizer. As previously stated, skin exposure to methanol could lead to systemic absorption, and substantial methanol exposure can potentially result in, among other things, blindness, permanent nervous system damage, and even death.
This hand sanitizer is misbranded under section 502(a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C 352(a), because the labeling is false and misleading. As noted above, OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer is labeled to contain alcohol 70%. However, FDA laboratory analyses revealed that samples of this product contain a concentration of ethyl alcohol (ethanol) that is less than what is stated on the product label and contain significant concentrations of methyl alcohol (methanol), an ingredient that is not declared on the product label. Section 201(n) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(n), provides that “in determining whether the labeling or advertising is misleading there shall be taken into account . . . not only representations made or suggested . . . but also the extent to which the labeling or advertising fails to reveal facts material in the light of such representations or material with respect to consequences which may result . . .” Thus, the misleading representation of the concentration of the active ingredient ethyl alcohol (ethanol) and the failure of the product label to disclose the presence of the methyl alcohol (methanol) in the product, causes this product to be misbranded under section 502(a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(a).
The failure of this product to list methyl alcohol (methanol) as an ingredient on its label causes it to be misbranded under section 502(e)(1)(A) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(e)(1)(A).
OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer is in several container sizes and configurations, including some containers that resemble drinking water bottles customarily purchased by U.S. consumers. Section 502(i)(1) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(i)(1), provides that a drug is misbranded if “its container is so made, formed, or filled as to be misleading . . .” As such, your clear, colorless hand sanitizer that fills 33.8 fluid ounce and 8.5 fluid ounce containers resembling plastic bottles ordinarily used to package drinking water is misbranded under section 502(i)(1) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(i)(1).
The product is also misbranded under section 502(x) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(x) because the product’s label fails to disclose a domestic address or domestic telephone number through which the responsible person may receive a report of a serious adverse event with such drug.
Lastly, this product is misbranded under section 502(ee) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 352(ee) because OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer is a nonprescription drug subject to section 505G of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 355h, but does not comply with the requirements for marketing under that section and is not the subject of an application approved under section 505 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 355.
The introduction or delivery for introduction of a misbranded drug into interstate commerce is prohibited under section 301(a) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 331(a).
CGMP Consultant Recommended
Based upon the nature of the violations we identified at your firm, we strongly recommend engaging a consultant qualified, as set forth in 21 CFR 211.34, to evaluate your operations and to assist your firm in meeting CGMP requirements if your firm intends to resume manufacturing drugs for the U.S. market. We also recommend that the qualified consultant perform a comprehensive audit of your entire operation for CGMP compliance and that the consultant evaluates the completion and efficacy of your corrective actions and preventive actions before you pursue resolution of your firm’s compliance status with FDA. Your use of a consultant does not relieve your firm’s obligation to comply with CGMP. Your firm’s executive management remains responsible for resolving all deficiencies and systemic flaws to ensure ongoing CGMP compliance.
The violations cited in this letter are not intended to be an all-inclusive list of violations associated with your drug products. You are responsible for investigating and determining the causes of these violations and for preventing their recurrence or the occurrence of other violations.
Note that FDA placed all drugs and drug products manufactured by your firm on Import Alert 66-78 on July 15, 2020 as the methods used in and controls used for the manufacture, processing, packing, or holding of these products do not appear to conform to current good manufacturing practice within the meaning of section 501(a)(2)(B) of the FD&C Act. Your drugs and drug products may be subject to detention without physical examination.
All drugs and drug products manufactured by your firm may remain listed on this import alert until there is evidence establishing that the conditions that gave rise to the appearance of the violation have been resolved and the Agency has confidence that future entries will be in compliance with the Act. This may include an inspection prior to the agency considering the appearance of adulteration to be addressed.
If you decide you want to manufacture drugs for the United States in the future, request a Regulatory Meeting to discuss corrective actions.
After you receive this letter, respond to this office in writing within 15 working days. Specify what you have done to correct your violations and to prevent their recurrence. If you cannot complete corrective actions within 15 working days, state your reasons for delay and your schedule for completion. If you believe that your products are not in violation of the FD&C Act, include your reasoning and any supporting information for our consideration.
Send your electronic reply to CDER-OC-OMQ-Communications@fda.hhs.gov
Identify your response with FEI 3010653642 and ATTN: Matthew J. Schnupp.
Office of Manufacturing Quality
Office of Compliance
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Registered US Agent:
144 Research Drive
Hampton VA 23666
1 Due to an increased demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, FDA published the Guidance for Industry: Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol- Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) on March 19, 2020, and subsequently updated the guidance on March 27, April 15, June 1, and August 7 of 2020. This guidance communicates the Agency’s temporary policy that we do not intend to take action against firms for CGMP violations under section 501(a)(2)(B) of the FD&C Act if such firms prepare alcohol-based hand sanitizers for consumer use (or for use as health care personnel hand rub) during the public health emergency, provided certain circumstances described in the guidance are present. These circumstances include preparation of hand sanitizer products using only the ingredients and formulas set forth in the guidance. In addition to the violative sample results detailed above that demonstrate the presence of methanol in your hand sanitizer products, review of the formulations on your drug product labeling further indicate that such products are not prepared consistent with FDA’s temporary policy set forth in the guidance. Therefore, these products do not fall within the Agency’s temporary policy not to take action against firms manufacturing hand sanitizer products for violations of section 501(a)(2)(B) of the FD&C Act.
2 The 1994 TFM, which does not distinguish between antiseptic hand washes and rubs, proposed for antiseptic hand washes and healthcare personnel hand washes an alcohol concentration of 60 to 95% by volume in an aqueous solution: 59 FR 31442. Later amendments to the 1994 TFM distinguished between antiseptic hand washes and rubs, and between consumer and healthcare personnel antiseptics, but did not change the alcohol concentration originally proposed in 1994.
3 See, e.g., Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19). Because OPTIMUS LUBRICANTS Instant Hand Sanitizer is not consistent with the formulations in these guidances, it does not fall within any temporary Agency policy not to take action against firms manufacturing hand sanitizer products for violations of section 505 of the FD&C Act.
4 The 1994 TFM covers health care antiseptics that are indicated for use to help reduce bacteria that potentially can cause disease and health care and consumer antiseptics that are indicated for use to decrease bacteria on the skin. 59 FR at 31443.
5 An inactive ingredient used in over-the-counter (OTC) monograph drugs must meet the requirements of 21 CFR 330.1(e), which requires, among other things, that inactive ingredients must be safe in the amount administered.