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EPA Seeks Fine for Over 50 Pesticide Violations by Connecticut Company

Release Date: 10/07/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has filed a complaint against a Connecticut company for making public health claims about a medical product without properly registering and labeling the product in accordance with federal law. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is seeking up to $5,500 from Doctor's Research Group Inc. (DRG) of Plymouth, CT for each of the over 50 violations.

DRG produces and sells SafeSealTM, a plastic diaphragm or cover designed to be placed over a medical stethoscope. The diaphragm contains an antimicrobial compound designed to protect the diaphragm itself from bacteria. However, in its distribution and sale of SafeSeal, DRG made additional claims about SafeSeal's ability to protect patients and medical professionals from harmful bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Federal law requires that any product making claims about killing pests, including viruses and bacteria, be registered with EPA. The pesticide registration process is intended to ensure that before a product is sold publicly, the pesticide is found by EPA to be effective and when used in strict compliance with the label directions does not present any unreasonable risks. DRG has not registered SafeSeal with EPA, yet made numerous claims regarding its effectiveness in protecting doctors and patients.

"When public health concerns are at stake, the American people cannot afford to have companies ignoring our nation's pesticide regulations ," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office.

The complaint, filed on September 30, alleges that DRG produced and sold the diaphragm from December 2002 to March 2003 without having a valid registration. It also alleges over 25 instances where the company mislabeled the products by making claims about protection from bacteria without first registering the product with EPA. Following an EPA inspection of its facility in March 2003, DRG modified the claims being made about SafeSeal