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The Canadian economy, among others, has undergone dramatic change as a result of Covid-19. As a consequence, normal operations for businesses around the country have been profoundly impacted.
Covid-19 has also reshaped how Canadians go about their daily lives. In the wake of the pandemic, many of the guidelines and rules set for certain products before they enter the market have had to be amended.
A good example of such products is hand sanitizers and disinfectants whose guidelines were changed to favor production and meet the market’s high demand.
Here’s what you should know about the measures in place to regulate the production process so that the products that reach the Canadian market are good enough to fight Covid-19.
Hand sanitizers are a great alternative especially when you are not able to access clean running water and soap. At present, none of the hand sanitizers in the Canadian market confirmed to kill the Covid-19 kill virus or any other coronaviruses.
However, they are still very important in curbing the spread of germs and reducing the risk of infection.
The high demand for sanitizers and disinfectants has motivated DIYers to make homemade hand sanitizers. Other people are not comfortable with using products whose ingredients they know very little about.
If you choose to go with this route rather than commercial sanitizer, then you should know that the World Health Organization has advised that for a hand sanitizer to be considered effective, it must have an alcohol concentration of at least 60%.
This means that the regular alcohol meant for consumption would not be effective since most alcoholic drinks don’t come anywhere near that mark.
There is also the fact that alcohol content will fall under that mark when other products such as water or gel extract have been added.
Hand Sanitizer Packaging
Proper product packaging goes a long way in improving the general safety of both people handling the product and the final consumer of the product. Health Canada has provided flexible policies regarding the appropriate packaging material and size for industry products.
For instance, licensed pharmacists are now allowed to compound, sell, and distribute hand sanitizers in their region of practice as per the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Distributing through a third party will require the pharmacist to acquire a product license.
Manufacturers are instructed to package hand sanitizer in identifiable containers. This is important because it will allow people to treat hand sanitizers with the sensitivity and care they require.
Manufacturers are also permitted to reuse hand sanitizer bottles throughout the pandemic. Reusing hand sanitizer containers in commercial and institutional settings such as schools must undergo a thorough cleaning process first.
This is then followed by chemical disinfection and finally after drying off completely ensuring proper storage until the next use.
In addition, Transport Canada gave temporary certificates to allow the distribution of hand sanitizer during the Covid19 pandemic.
This means that manufacturers may not have to comply with some of the requirements as per the Transportation of Dangerous Good Regulation in Canada.
These certificates however only apply to hand sanitizers containing ethanol, isopropyl, or a combination of these solutions within the acceptable percentages.
Hard Surface Disinfectants
Because of the nature of Covid-19 to spread through hand contact, high contact surfaces should be constantly disinfected to reduce the risk of contamination.
For example, your phone is at risk of being an active germ carrier because of how often it is held. Therefore, using a diluted bleach solution to clean your phone is very important.
Other high contact hard surfaces that could benefit from regular disinfecting include countertops, toilets, and bathroom sinks as well as doorknobs and handles.
A proper bleach disinfectant is made by using about 2% of bleach concentrate and clean water. Make the solution only when you need it and dispose of it once you have finished cleaning.
When creating a bleach solution, avoid mixing the bleach with other chemicals as this could prove dangerous. Check the product’s labeling for instructions on how to properly use the product.
Regular household cleaners could also be quite useful in disinfecting surfaces as long as the instructions on the label are followed effectively and the cleaning process is both thorough and regular.
Surface sanitizers are able to reduce the number of bacteria present on a surface but may not kill all of them. Surface sanitizers are not as effective as hand sanitizers or hard surface disinfectants.
It can be said that since Health Canada is working towards regulating and increasing the products used for fighting against Coivd19, their production is not prioritized.
Measures Meant to Catalyze Production Processes
In light of the increased demand for hand sanitizers and disinfectants, many manufacturers are now able to supply their products even though they do not meet the full criteria of Health Canada.
This expedited process has allowed importers to bring into the market, products that would have otherwise been locked out. The only requirements for importers are to ensure they retain proper records in the event they recall products from the market and they inform Health Canada before they ship in their products.
The companies producing hand sanitizers and disinfectants are placed under strict regulations that require them to conform to the standard manufacturing practices before they sell their hand sanitizers to the public. These requirements include getting a drug establishment license and a site license for NHPs and drugs respectively.
Due to supply shortages, on the 15th of April, 2020, Health Canada allowed manufacturers to use technical-grade ethanol to produce alcohol-based sanitizers. Technical-grade ethanol has more impurities than pharmaceutical-grade ethanol and companies using the chemical had to comply with certain rules.
For example, they had to obtain a clearance letter from Health Canada, they had to indicate technical-grade ethanol was used, and they had to state the products were strictly for adult use on the labeling.
However, on 24th June 2020. Health Canada recalled hand sanitizer from 23 manufacturers whose production processes violated the rules set up by Health Canada. Canadians were also discouraged from purchasing or using any of the recalled brand products.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are meant for personal use are grouped as Natural Health Products (NHPS). They must obtain a product number from the Natural and Non-Prescription Health Products Directorate (NNPHD) so as to remain within the listed requirements.
However, those not intended for commercial use, for example, hand sanitizer products for a school bathroom, would be classified as non-prescription antiseptic drugs. They would then require a Drug Identification Number (DIN) so as to fit within the regulations.
Manufacturers and distributors alike are now able to make both direct and indirect efficacy claims when it comes to the virus that causes Covid19.
Eligibility for making indirect claims requires authorized products to be labeled as a broad spectrum viricide and carry a specific claim against non-enveloped viruses.
On the other hand, eligibility for making direct claims requires the products to make a direct claim against the virus that is directly responsible for Covid19.
This claim will be substantiated by Health Canada after reviewing and approving the efficacy data to support the claim.
Alternative Sources for Non-Alcohol Based Products
With increased demand, acquiring certain vital ingredients such as alcohol, which is essential for the manufacture of hand sanitizer and disinfectant may prove difficult.
In such a case, the manufacturers of hard surface disinfectants can use different suppliers. However, the Chemical Abstract Service numbers and concentrations must remain identical.
Non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) conditions can seek out their active ingredients in the non-GMP pool as found in the Antiseptic Skin Cleansers Monograph.
The monograph is in place to outline the ingredients required for a product to acquire market authorization such as a DIN or an NPN (Natural Product Number).
Manufacturers of these products are held accountable for ensuring that they assess risk and that the change of ingredients will not affect product efficacy, safety, and quality.
What You Ought to Do
It is important to note that Health Canada will lift these interim measures once regular supply resumes. Fighting the spread of Covid-19 involves a great number of players; from manufacturers and policymakers to the ordinary Canadian citizen.
The rules and regulations guiding the production of hand sanitizers in Canada have had to be revamped so that only the best products are in the market and at the right time.
As this goes on, everyone else is still required to stay up to date with the various regulations as well as adhere to the guidelines on the use of the products in the market.
In addition to proper use of products is adhering to proper hygiene practices so as to contribute to flattening the curve and curbing the spread of Covid19.
Good hand hygiene practice has been classified as the best deterrent against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This involves washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds every time you come into contact with a potentially contaminated surface.
Where washing your hands is not an option, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should serve as a great alternative.
With the right kind of disinfectants, virus-causing pathogens can be killed if the disinfectant is used appropriately. therefore, make sure that you apply the sanitizer or disinfectant as directed by the label packaging.