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Face time with MyClyns anti-germ spray


4 Star

Face time with MyClyns anti-germ spray

Our Review Summary

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. 


Why This Matters

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.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


Explicit.  $9-10 for a fifth-of-an-ounce spray bottle.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

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. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


if questionable effectiveness is a harm, this story raised those questions.  What harms were reported to the FDA in order to get marketing approval?

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The column may have been a bit too generous, stating that:

"Several scientific studies have shown that MyClyns can kill a wide variety of germs. A 2005 study in Mexico found that the same solution in MyClyns (in this case, sold by Oculus Innovative Sciences Inc., under the brand name Microcyn) killed yeast as well as E. coli and staph bacteria in the laboratory. The study also found that it was effective against HIV and adenovirus, a type of respiratory virus, in the lab. The solution has also been shown to speed the healing of diabetic foot ulcers, presumably because it wiped out germs that could cause a sore to fester."
But it didn’t evaluate those studies. Were the first two findings ever replicated in people in real-life situations?

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.  

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The realities of how germs are spread – and how this might be prevented – are the focus of the story.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Several independent and skeptical perspectives were included.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


How a story ends is often the punchline.  This story ended quoting an expert: 

"It sounds like a sexy product, but simple hand-washing is likely to be more effective for preventing the flu than a one-time spray in the face."

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The advertising for, and availability of, the "anti-germ spray" is obvious.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Ths kind of column is the anti-news-release.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


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