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University of Rochester Medical Center pharmacy solves hand sanitizer shortage

As the COVID-19 epidemic ramped up in New York, the demand for hand sanitizer skyrocketed rapidly, resulting in a supply shortage. In an effort to meet the high demand for hand sanitizer, the department of pharmacy at the University of Rochester Medical Center began compounding its own FDA-approved alcohol-based solution for use within the organization.

URMC’s pharmacy department was approached with this project as hand sanitizer was becoming commercially limited. 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. The Non-Sterile Compounding Pharmacy team recognized this as an opportunity to package their compounded product in reused empty commercial bottles. This effort displays how innovation can meet resource conservation and efficiency measures during times of challenge.

In about one month, between mid-March and mid-April, 505 liters (505,000 mL) of hand sanitizer was compounded by staff, filling more than 1,200 empty bottles of various sizes collected from across the University community.

For more information, please contact Michael Leonard, MD, associate chief quality officer, at URMCRedesigned@URMC.Rochester.edu or (585) 273-5396.