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Speeding hand disinfectant products into the EU market in response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for hand disinfectants, driven by recommendations from bodies such as the WHO. Handwashing is a vital measure for reducing the risk of contracting the virus. The WHO specifically recommends that all individuals “regularly and thoroughly clean (their) hands with an alcohol-based handrub or wash them with soap and water.”

Sales of hand disinfectant have risen dramatically across the world. For example, in the UK, disinfectant sales have risen 255% year-to-year in February 2020.

Chemical companies are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented demand because of shortages of active substances. Finding new sources of actives may not be straightforward because of regulatory controls. New products are often slow to enter the market due to regulatory frameworks and time-consuming authorization procedures. Regulators across Europe appreciate these challenges and are responding by relaxing regulations and providing guidance.