Antibacterial pens?

So, I was in the grocery store yesterday and I needed a new pen. I saw a package of Papermate pens (ballpoint, retractable) that said they were antibacterial. I guess this sounds like an okay idea if you’re in an office situation and you’ve figured out your pen-swiping officemate doesn’t wash his hands after going to the toilet. I took a closer look, though, and the pen casing itself doesn’t have antibacterial agents. I guess it’s the ink, because it says only the paper surface will get antibacterialized (I made that word up) and the pen doesn’t offer any “protection” to your hands. What, exactly, is the point of that?

A stupid marketing gimmick?

It appears that others have asked the same question.

Four out of five doctors recommend antibacterial pens for their patients who like jabbing themselves in the eye.

We can finally begin to fight this plague of writing utensil-related finger infections. Hallelujah!

No, it’s the “surface” of the pen. They just have to be careful about making “antibacterial” claims, because that claims it affects human health and any product making such a claim is regulated and controled. They SHOULD be advertising as “antimicrobial”. The truth is the surface of the pen does kill certain bacteria, and probably does help prevent the spread of germs person to person. They just can’t make that direct claim in the U.S. without registering the product as a medical device (or somesuch similiar product), and being subjuct to more regulations.

Incidentally, I passed up the antibacterial pens (and the pen that has a little, teeny light in it, in case you need to do the crossword in the pitch black…although that one was tempting) and went with the Papermate GelGlide (ultra-smooth!). It sucks.

Many years ago, I read a Thanksgiving quote by PJ O’Rourke which said “I’m thankful we now have pens that can write through butter; I’m also thankful I don’t have to write in butter very often”.

Seems like that quote could be re-worked to apply to antibacterial pens.