A handy solution: College of Pharmacy students, Michigan Medicine pharmacy partner to meet critical need

March 26, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

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Last Thursday, the Michigan Medicine Department of Pharmacy and students from U-M’s College of Pharmacy (COP) began compounding hand sanitizer to meet the critical need for a supply that has become so scarce in recent weeks.

James T. Dalton, Ph.D., dean and professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the COP, reached out to Michigan Medicine about a potential partnership after the idea was proposed by a fellow faculty member.

The FDA had recently released recommendations for appropriate preparation of hand sanitizer in response to the COVID-19 shortage, so the college and Department of Pharmacy worked together to procure ingredients, develop a recipe and establish temporary compounding operations.

Setting up shop

COP students and faculty members, alongside Michigan Medicine Pharmacy staff, are making hand sanitizer in the space that used to serve as a satellite pharmacy on the 6th floor of University Hospital. Each day, anywhere from four to eight volunteers participate in production.

In its first two days of compounding, the team was able to produce 550 16-ounce bottles of sanitizer to distribute across the health system.

According to Central Pharmacy Manager Jenn Erley, Pharm.D., M.B.A., BCPS, the health system uses approximately 4,500 ounces of hand sanitizer per day, so their first batch resulted in about a two-day supply.

“The resourcefulness and volunteerism of College of Pharmacy faculty, staff and students as well as Michigan Medicine Pharmacy staff is limitless,” said Dalton. “It’s been fantastic to see so many people step up to meet this unprecedented challenge.”

Meeting future need

Based on current resources, Erley estimates that the team can produce between 200 and 300 bottles, or 3,200-4,800 ounces per day.

“We plan to continue compounding as long as we are able to procure ingredients,” she said. “We are also investigating partnerships with local distilleries that have been approved for preparing hand sanitizer.”

Rachel Cortis, MAcc, pharmacy director of business operations, said there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support from the community.

“Local companies are interested in helping to keep our shelves stocked and we are currently coordinating the logistics for this,” she said. “People in the health system, university and community are coming together to help in any way they can. It’s nice to see that collaboration, especially at a time like this.”