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04/30/2020    Robert D Teitelbaum, DPM

Pandemic-Induced Shortages of Peroxide and Isopropyl Alcohol

What used to cost $24 for sixteen quarts (4
gallons) of 91% alcohol from Sam's Club now costs
about the same amount for two quarts with the
hefty additional hazmat shipping charge from a
catalog/web site/amazon link. But if you think
and look outside the box, equivalents may be
found (not witch hazel). While shopping at one of
the dollar stores I looked down at the bottom
shelf and saw those round pint size plastic
bottles that IPA used to come in, before the
quart containers became common. The fluid was
pink, not clear and the bottle said it contained
"Arthritis and Sports Medicine Pain Relieving
Rub". The label said it contained IPA, methyl
salicyate, (the active ingredient of Ben-Gay) and
capsaicin.

I had to crack open the cap of one of them,
knowing that I would have to at least buy that
one. But that is risking all of one dollar. It
reeked of alcohol, which of course is no
quantitative assay of IPA content but it
impressed me as something I could press into use
in these strange times. I cleared out the other
remaining seven bottles on the shelf. The bottle
also had a number to call the company--LGN Labs,
which I did the next morning. I asked the
receptionist what the alcohol content of this rub
was and she said that it was a proprietary and
confidential piece of information. I didn't
realize I was perilously close to infringing on
intellectual property.

I was concerned about possible allergic reactions
to the salicylate and capsaicin ingredients, and
with using this fluid on at least forty patients,
I have found no one who even noticed it. My staff
and I also like the pleasant pink color. And
possibly, the capsaicin element relieves the
sensitivity of our neuropathic patients.

As for peroxide, I recommend using one of your
patients as a scout at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, after
the U.S. government, is the largest employer in
this country, and every practice either has a
patient who works for them or you have a relative
or friend who does. And they can let you know
when they get deliveries of these fluids that
remain on the shelf for all of seven minutes when
they are displayed at odd times throughout the
week. Of course, you show your appreciation with
a generous gratuity. And that is how we will get
through these unusual times--thinking outside the
box, or bottle.

Robert D Teitelbaum, DPM, Naples, FL

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