Cuomo challenges Purell, Amazon, eBay by introducing New York-made hand sanitizer

New York state is producing and distributing its own hand sanitizer free of charge amid reports of price gouging of the product on the market as the coronavirus outbreak spreads globally and across the U.S.

“We’re introducing NYS clean hand sanitizer, made conveniently by the state of New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Monday. “This is a superior product to products now on the market.”

Cuomo said the state’s product is 75 percent alcohol compared to name-brand competitor Purell, which is made of 70 percent alcohol. Health officials recommend using a hand sanitizer made of at least 60 percent alcohol. 

The New York product also has a “very nice floral bouquet” scent, Cuomo added. 

“To Purell, and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging, we will introduce our product, which is superior to your product,” Cuomo said. “And you don’t even have the floral bouquet, so stop price gouging.” 

A spokesperson for eBay said the online retailer is “taking significant measures to block or quickly remove items” that make “false health claims” and ensure that sellers on the platform follow local laws and its policies.

Samantha Williams, a spokesperson for GOJO, the parent company of Purell, said it does not set a retail price for consumers, adding that “we feel strongly that there is no place for price-gouging, especially during times of elevated public health concern.”

Williams added that the company has not seen price gouging by any GOJO-authorized retailers.

A spokesperson for Amazon was not immediately available for comment. 

New York will distribute its product to government agencies, including schools, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and prisons. 

Cuomo said creating and distributing the product is cheaper for the state than purchasing competing brands. 

Cuomo announced 37 new confirmed cases of the virus in New York, bringing the total to 142 across the state. The hardest hit region is Westchester with 98 total cases, including 16 of the newly-announced cases. 

There are also 19 confirmed cases in New York City, 17 in Nassau County, four in Rockland County, two in Saratoga, one in Suffolk County and one in Ulster. 

Lawmakers have called out Amazon over reports of price gouging of hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus outbreak. Last week Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) questioned the online retailer over reports of up to 2,000 percent markups on some items. 

“Internet-based retailers such as have a particular responsibility to guard against price gouging in current circumstances as consumers — who are finding the shelves of local brick-and-mortar stores bare, and who may wish to avoid venturing into crowded stores and shopping malls — turn to the internet,” Markey wrote in a letter to the company. 

In response, Amazon’s Vice President Brian Huseman wrote to Markey on Friday that price gouging will not be tolerated on Amazon. 

Huseman said Amazon removed more than 530,000 offers from its store over coronavirus-based price gouging, and suspended more than 2,5000 seller accounts in its U.S. store alone for violating price gouging policies, according to a letter dated March 6.

–This report was updated at 3:34 p.m.

Tags Amazon Amazon Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Cuomo eBay EBay Ed Markey Hand sanitizer New York Price gouging Purell

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