BOSTON (AP) — An Illinois-based company falsely marketed and sold a fake hand sanitizer to school districts across Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey said Tuesday.
In a complaint filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, prosecutors alleged the company claimed the sanitizer could kill the COVID-19 virus and provide a multi-hour barrier against the virus without the need for reapplication.
The complaint alleges that School Health Corporation violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act when it misled school districts in Framingham, Winchester, Nahant, Swampscott, New Bedford, the Bridgewater-Raynham and Wachusett Regional School Districts, and the City of Malden, into purchasing more than $100,000 worth of “Theraworx Protect” at the beginning of the pandemic between March and July last year.
The company claimed that the product was an effective alternative to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when, in fact, it did not contain any of the key ingredients in hand sanitizer, according to the complaint.
An email to the company seeking comment was not immediately returned.
“This company exploited fears around a growing public health crisis in order to profit by selling a bogus hand sanitizer to schools looking to stop the spread,” Healey said in a written statement.
According to documents and emails obtained during the attorney general’s investigation, both customers and employees of School Health Corporation questioned the company’s statements about Theraworx Protect’s performance and ingredients.
The complaint also alleges that company staff acknowledged in an email to a client in March 2020 that it had no reliable or scientific evidence to back up claims that the product was effective in combatting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Despite this, School Health Corporation continued to falsely market the product to public entities as a way to kill the virus, the complaint alleges.