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Keith Birdthistle, General Manager Mervue Laboratories, William Twomey, Commercial Director, Mervue Laboratories and John Roche, Head Engineer, Mervue Laboratories, pictured in their facilities, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork as the company produced its one millionth bottle of hand sanitiser for the HSE this week.Picture Clare Keogh
Keith Birdthistle, General Manager Mervue Laboratories, William Twomey, Commercial Director, Mervue Laboratories and John Roche, Head Engineer, Mervue Laboratories, pictured in their facilities, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork as the company produced its one millionth bottle of hand sanitiser for the HSE this week.Picture Clare Keogh
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Cork company produces one millionth bottle of hand sanitiser

A Cork-based company has produced its one millionth bottle of hand sanitiser for the HSE this week.

Animal Nutrition company Mervue Laboratories, in partnership with Irish Distillers, were the first in Ireland to ensure that the HSE had supplies in early March, and are now the primary supplier to the HSE, Defence Forces and Tusla.

The company is manufacturing 40,000 units of Gelguard hand gel per day.

The hand gel produced by Mervue Laboratories.
The hand gel produced by Mervue Laboratories.

Director of Mervue Laboratories William Twomey explained that their manufacturing came about following a conversation with his pharmacist, Ciaran O’Connor, from Bishopstown Pharmacy.

“The HSE needed hand sanitiser urgently, pharmacies were struggling to keep them in stock, and the situation was exacerbated by countries closing their borders and holding onto stocks and raw materials,” Mr Twomey said.
"Ciaran asked if we had the capability to produce hand gel from our labs here in Cork and when I responded that technically yes we do, he said we have to help to save lives." 

Mervue Labs do make gel-based products, however, a huge supply of alcohol was needed to fulfill the demand for hand sanitiser. 

The company partnered with Irish Distillers and 'together were in a position to answer the HSE’s call for help'.

“In combination with the procurement team in the HSE and the Department of Agriculture, we worked tirelessly over the last few months to make things happen,” Mr Twomey said. "It has been a real team effort of people who care for our country and want to help at a time of national crisis." 

Staff at the plant have been diverted from their normal work practices to meet HSE demand, while numerous temporary workers have also been employed. 

The company is now operating seven days a week from their Watergrasshill facility, where they produced their one millionth bottle of Gelguard this week.

“Mervue Laboratories and Irish Distillers are really proud to produce our one millionth bottle of Gelguard this week,” Mr Twomey said.
"The HSE want to source products locally on a long-term basis and we have the necessary facility, capacity and supply chain available to manufacture large-scale quantities of alcohol gel for frontline workers for as long as is needed." 

Cork pharmacist Ciaran O’Sullivan said: “Hand sanitiser is in short supply around the world because of the pandemic and it is fantastic that two Cork-based companies came together to help our very strained health system at a time of need.”