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Connecticut Health Centers Get Needed Lift from EPA Settlement with Medical Product Maker

Release Date: 11/30/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: Nov. 30, 2004; Release # sr04-11-02

BOSTON - A Connecticut medical-device manufacturing company entered into an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency that requires the company to pay a penalty of $10,000, and spend $38,000 to provide antimicrobial medical supplies, free of charge, to non-profit, school-based health centers in the state.

The company, Doctor's Research Group, Inc. of Plymouth, is settling allegations by EPA that the company violated federal pesticide laws when it made claims that implied that the antimicrobial protection offered by "SafeSeal," a stethoscope cover, would protect those who come into contact with it. Under the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), products must be registered with EPA if a company claims that the product offers antimicrobial protections beyond the product itself. While not admitting any wrongdoing, Doctor's Research Group has stopped making the claims of SafeSeal's extended protections, and is therefore no longer required to comply with FIFRA registration requirements for that product.

DRG has agreed to provide any of several antimicrobial products to the health centers. Among the specified products are alcohol-based hand rubs. Recent recommendations issued by the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and a Task Force on Hand Hygiene touted the effectiveness of the alcohol-based rubs for decontaminating hands. Health care providers may wash their hands dozens of times each shift, and the committee found that using rubs was quicker, did not require access to sinks, and was more effective in reducing the bacterial count on hands. The rubs also cause less skin irritation and dryness than hand-washing. As health care providers brace for influenza this winter, there is an even greater focus on hand hygiene and the overall prevention of infection in health care facilities.

"This unique settlement offers far-reaching benefits to both health care workers -- who can rest assured that EPA is monitoring claims made by medical product suppliers, and to our children -- who will be served in an enhanced health care environment," said Robert W. Varney, the regional administrator of EPA New England.

The agreement will benefit more than 60 health centers serving about 42,000 elementary, middle and high school students.

The impact to the school-based health centers is enormous. Melanie Bonjour, president of the Connecticut Association of School-Based Health Centers, pointed out that "many of these children have little or no access to health care, relying on the emergency room in dire situations." As a result, the health centers play a critical role in the health and well-being of these young people, addressing health care concerns that could easily go masked or unaddressed until later years. Bonjour commended EPA for its "broad vision and commitment to creating an environment in which our children, and our future, can prosper and thrive."

For more information on pesticides go to EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/pest/index.html

Related Information:
Pesticide Program
Pesticides Enforcement