Student Health Center Pharmacy partners to make hand sanitizer for campus

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Diane Lamotte, ancillary services director and senior pharmacist, makes hand sanitizer.
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UCSC Research Safety Specialist Brian Gallagher from EH&S.

Looking for hand sanitizer in the time of COVID-19? You're likely to find empty shelves and “out of stock” notices. But that didn't stop the UC Santa Cruz Student Health Center Pharmacy from filling the gap.

With newly relaxed federal restrictions for pharmacies to compound hand sanitizer, pharmacy staff set out to create more hand sanitizer for the campus community. But they faced an obstacle: a lack of the lab-grade, concentrated alcohol necessary to kill coronavirus.

One UCSC department knew where to find it: the Environmental Health & Safety department. EH&S tracked down the alcohol and a lab to compound the mixture. The Student Health Center provided the glycerine, hydrogen peroxide, containers and labels. Then Senior Pharmacist and Student Health Center Ancillary Services Director Diane Lamotte, RPh, partnered with UCSC Research Safety Specialist Brian Gallagher from EH&S, and Lori Etow of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department. Using Etow’s lab, Lamotte and Gallagher created eighty four-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, which the pharmacy sold for $2.50 each. In a few days, hand sanitizer sales were booming.

“It’s a little more watery than commercial sanitizers and we don’t add scents or other additives, but it works just as well,” said Lamotte, noting that the hand sanitizer is good for 30 days.

Most commercial pharmacies wouldn’t have access to an on-site compounding lab. But UCSC's research facilities and staff expertise combined to meet the community's needs.

Students, staff, and faculty can buy hand sanitizer at the pharmacy, located in the Student Health Center.