With the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), came struggles and hardships that were not foreseen. One of these struggles was to maintain an adequate supply of medical equipment, medications, and other necessities to help protect individuals and communities. Proper hand hygiene is an important part of the response to COVID-19. Sanitizing and taking steps to prevent contraction of COVID-19 was a high priority and with the high demand, the availability of hand sanitizer was scare.

In March 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a policy allowing pharmacists to temporarily compound alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the public health emergency. This provided the Purdue University Pharmacy the opportunity to provide this essential service to the Purdue and local community.

In collaboration with the Purdue University Pharmacy, four pharmacists, two pharmacy technicians, and five pharmacy students compounded a total of 831.36 liters of hand sanitizer (approximately 220 gallons) during March and April 2020. They packaged the product into smaller bottles (i.e., two ounces) and labeled them according to FDA guidelines. This resulted in over 13,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that was safe for human use. Many of the bottles were donated to campus and community agencies including food pantries and transitional housing and shelters to assist those most in need. While the remaining bottles were sold (at cost) to campus and community members, police departments, fire departments, sanitation departments, funeral homes, libraries, and childcare centers, to name just a few. Pharmacy students reflected on the experience and commented that the initiative impacted them both personally and professionally and provided a way to work together and give back to the community during this challenging time.

This community outreach initiative helped to protect community members and allowed the pharmacy students to continue to learn during this uncertain time.