URMC Pharmacy Produces Hand Sanitizer in Response to Shortage

In an effort to meet the high demand of hand sanitizer, the Department of Pharmacy is compounding its own FDA-approved alcohol-based solution for use within the organization. As empty bottles are being collected for refill University-wide, this effort displays how innovation can meet resource conservation and efficiency measures in a collaborative way during this time of challenge.

The Department of Pharmacy was approached with this project as hand sanitizer was becoming commercially limited with the rise of COVID-19. At the time, purchasing hand sanitizer produced by local distilleries or the New York State prison system was an alternative to commercial products. However, these products are provided in glass bottles with screw caps or 55 gallon drums that are not end-user friendly in a hospital setting. New small volume pump bottles were also not available. The Non-Sterile Compounding Pharmacy team realized the opportunity to package their compounded product in reused empty commercial bottles.

Gathering the bottles for the product was a collaborative effort. After the Compounding Pharmacy was pleased with the result of rinsing and then thoroughly washing a few bottles in the lab-grade dishwasher, they put a call out for empty Purell pump bottles from around the hospital. University Facilities and Services helped collect bottles across multiple Medical Center and River Campus locations. The first batch of empty bottles was delivered by Dr. Michael S. Leonard, Associate Chief Quality Officer, on March 23, collected from the Department of Neurology. Dr. Leonard cleverly dubbed the product “URell” and commented, “This effort is another shining example of the dedication, ingenuity and collaboration at our institution. I’m so proud to work with such a talented team of professionals who rose to the challenge during these difficult times.”

In approximately one month, from mid-March to mid-April, 505 liters (505,000 mL) of hand sanitizer was compounded by staff, filling over 1,200 empty bottles of various sizes with the new product. Most of the finished product is sent to URMC Supply Chain Management for redistribution with a percent also going to Highland Hospital. Supply Chain Management coordinates the distribution of refilled bottles. Associate Director Naveen Daniel states, “We’ve disbursed over 600, various sized, bottles of ‘URell’ since the program began. When UR staff members come to retrieve their order of ‘URell’ their feedback is fairly unanimous. Everyone is impressed that different departments have pulled together to make this happen.” Daniel thanks Rebecca Tobin, who has been working to disburse the bottles to departments.

For information on where to donate empty hand sanitizer bottles please visit the Facilities Department website for updates related to COVID-19. Please note bottles are not being refilled for individual use at this time.


By Amy Kadrie

Photo Credits Dr. Michael S. Leonard

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