A Courtenay pharmacy has been able to procure some extra sanitizer to donate to local organizations, despite heavy public demand for it.
Customers have been buying sanitizer, while medical professionals have been concerned about supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Distilleries, such as Shelter Point Distillery, have switched to making it.
Pure Integrative Pharmacy on Lerwick Road has been producing sanitizer as well, though on a smaller scale than the batches distilleries are able to turn around.
“We’re making the 70 per cent isopropyl,” pharmacy manager Greg Ouellette told The Record on March 30. “It’s been about three weeks now that I’ve gotten them in.”
A central Vancouver lab for Pure is actually mixing the medical grade sanitizer, using standard isopropyl, sterile water and a gel, to send to the 15 or so locations in B.C.
Ouellette said he does not have the time to mix it locally because he is the only pharmacist on site at the location, so the head lab is shipping it.
“They’re just kind of sending it to me as I need it,” he said. “That’s where we’ve been getting it.”
The central lab makes a lot of the compounds for the pharmacies, and of late, there has been heavy demand for the sanitizer.
“It’s been crazy. We’ve probably sold … hundreds of the smaller bottles,” he said. “They’re very costly to make.”
It is not produced on vast scales like the sanitizer distillers are now producing, and at the pharmacy, Ouellette said they are filling one at a time, manually pouring the sanitizer into 250-ml bottles and labelling them, and the bottles are being priced primarily to cover costs rather than being heavily marked up, even with the high demand right now.
“It’d be nice if we can stop making them, so we can focus more on prescriptions,” he added.
The pharmacy has been busy in recent weeks, but Ouellette has found customers to be very understanding of the circumstances and complying with distance requirements while coming in for prescriptions and other supplies. Pure has had to limit the number of people in the store at any one time.
“I think it’s bringing out the good in a lot of people,” he said. “I haven’t had anyone really be rude. It’s been good.”
Even with the extra demand, he has been able to find some extra sanitizer and got permission from his head office to donate it – specifically, in jugs, 250-ml bottles and 60ml mini bottles – so he decided first on Glacier View Lodge, where his grandfather lived until passing away earlier this year.
“That’s why I reached out to them, I thought that would be nice,” he said, adding, “I thought it would be cool to give back to them as they provided amazing care.”
Ouellette still had some left and Pure was able to donate it to the Comox Valley Transition Society, ultimately giving out more than 11 litres to both Glacier View and the Transition Society.