Company releases product to fight anthrax

Thursday, November 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A disinfectant that is effective against anthrax has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for sale to the government and the U.S. Postal Service.

Oklahoma City-based saniVex Technologies Inc. announced Wednesday that it will market the product for treating hard surfaces contaminated with anthrax. It will not be initially available to the general public.

``What we can do today is market Sanithrax to postal services, local and state government _ to the people, in our view, who need it the most to provide better safety and peace of mind,'' Bill Towler, chief executive and founder of saniVex, said Wednesday.

Anthrax has killed five people while sending others to hospitals and forcing thousands to take protective antibiotics.

The chief component that makes Sanithrax work is chlorine dioxide. Although chlorine dioxide has been known to be effective in fighting anthrax, the agent is usually in a corrosive gas. The local company's version is in a spray bottle and is milder.

Mike McAuliffe, a marketing specialist with saniVex, said the product is virtually harmless except to bacteria.

``You could drink it,'' he said. ``You might not want to, but you could.''

The company began working on the product after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It incorporated two weeks ago. Towler had already worked with Norman-based Biocide, which has worked with chlorine dioxide.

The company is setting up contract workers in Oklahoma to produce Sanithrax, and the executives say all contractors and manufacturing will remain in the state. The product also kills e-coli, salmonella and other bacteria.

Towler said that while the product has not yet been approved for use by consumers, the company will do further testing to determine the product's safety for use in homes and businesses.