Dentist members of Congress urge CDC to assist providers in disinfectant shortage

Five members of Congress who are all dentists wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October expressing concern over a disinfectant shortage and urging the agency to develop guidance to help clinicians.

“We are writing to express our concern about the apparent shortage of antimicrobial sprays, wipes and other surface disinfectants approved for use in health care settings and to ask your agency to develop guidance to help clinicians know what to do when these products are not readily available,” wrote Reps. Brian Babin, R-Texas; Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Drew Ferguson, R-Georgia; and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J.

In the letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., the members of Congress encouraged the agency to explore the viability of using surface disinfectants that the Environmental Protection Agency is allowing for temporary emergency use. The EPA has already granted temporary emergency approval for registered manufacturers to develop and sell new surface disinfectants without waiting for EPA approval, provided the agency is notified.

“As dentists, we know firsthand how critical surface disinfectants are in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria in health care settings,” they wrote. “During the coronavirus pandemic, our front-line health care workers have done a tremendous job of preventing its spread by enhancing their infection control protocols. This includes additional cleaning and disinfecting of operatories and check-in and check-out stations using both hospital and consumer grade disinfectants, all in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

The five congressmen pointed out that during the pandemic, sales of aerosol disinfectants and of multipurpose cleaners are up 520% and 250%, respectively, according to the research film Nielsen. They also noted that manufacturers and retailers are struggling to meet demand and said the National Supply Chain Task Force “anticipates surface disinfectants will remain in short supply until at least Jan. 1, 2021.”

“Until then, the country will have to prioritize how these products are allocated and, hopefully, find innovative ways to boost the supply chain. The CDC is ideally positioned to help with both,” they wrote.

“We urge the CDC to develop guidance to help clinicians know what to do when surface disinfectants are not readily available. And we hope such guidance will address whether and how surface disinfectants that the EPA is allowing for temporary emergency use can be leveraged in health care settings,” the letter concluded.