Take water, add sodium chloride, zap it with an electric charge. And then sell it for ten bucks a bottle as an anti-germ spray. That’s the story the LA Times tells with this column.
Good as this column was, though, it could have been much stronger if it had scrutinized the quality of the studies it cited and told us more about how/why the FDA approved this as a medical device.
With all of the anti-microbial marketing bombarding us like an attack on our immune system these days, it’s good to have a newspaper evaluate the claims and the evidence for us.
Explicit. $9-10 for a fifth-of-an-ounce spray bottle.
The column cited only the manufacturer’s TV ad, saying that the product "kills 99% of germs." Studies were cited but no data were given.
if questionable effectiveness is a harm, this story raised those questions. What harms were reported to the FDA in order to get marketing approval?
The column may have been a bit too generous, stating that:
And the column never commented on what happens when water "gets zapped with an electrical charge" – the so-called "super oxidized" power of the product.
The realities of how germs are spread – and how this might be prevented – are the focus of the story.
Several independent and skeptical perspectives were included.
How a story ends is often the punchline. This story ended quoting an expert:
The advertising for, and availability of, the "anti-germ spray" is obvious.
We wished the story had explained more about how the product was approved by the FDA as a device, not as a drug. Was there a novel claim made? Or was the device approved under the "substantially equivalent" 510K clearance? Regardless, a comment on what FDA approval means – or doesn’t mean – was warranted in this case.
Ths kind of column is the anti-news-release.