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Jan. 29, 2020 -- The maker of Purell hand sanitizers has been warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to stop claiming that the products can protect people from infections and illnesses.

The agency warned Gojo Industries that unsubstantiated claims that Purell can help prevent illnesses such as the flu, Ebola virus, norovirus and the MRSA superbug violate federal laws, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Purell will be reclassified as an unapproved drug, rather than an over-the-counter product, the FDA said.

In its warning letter to Gojo, the FDA made note of unproven claims on the company's websites and social media accounts, including "Purell Products are proven to reduce absenteeism" and Purell "kills more than 99.99 percent of the most common germs that may cause illness in a healthcare setting, including MRSA," The Times reported.

The agency also criticized Gojo's "Frequently Asked Questions," which it said suggested that because Purell is made with ethyl alcohol, it might be effective against viruses like Ebola, norovirus and influenza.

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