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Local company's lotion keeps Olympic swimmers safe

In the 2016 Olympic Games, Team Canada is using DermSafe to keep their bodies from being infected by potentially polluted water in Rio de Janerio. 8/8/16 (Jeff Gillan | KSNV)

A Las Vegas-based pharmaceutical company is playing its part in the Olympics.

“Somebody phoned me and said what are you doing about the situation in Rio,” Terry Howlett told me. He’s the President and CEO of Skinvisible Pharmaceuticals, Inc, not far from the 95. It’s in the flight path to McCarran.

“I said I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” he added.

What they’re talking about is Rio’s largest body of water, Guanabara Bay, is part sewer and part competition venue. Marathon swimmers, kayakers, canoers, triathletes, sailors and rowers will plunge into the water for a chance to win a medal.

“I understand, from what I read, that they were supposed to build these filtration plants and they weren’t built, so the effluent from the city just dumps right into the bay,” said Howlett.

Then a lightbulb went off. His company’s Canadian subsidiary had just the thing: a hand-sanitizing lotion, hospital-strength, that doesn’t dissolve and lasts for hours. So, they made a call.

“We got approval from the medical director in Canada for Olympics Canada – that came in four hours – said we’re in,” Howlett added.

Skinvisible’s Canadian division, Kintari Canada, Inc., donated bottles and bottles of a product called “DermSafe” to the Canadian Olympic team. While it's normally used just on hands, Canada’s water athletes will adapt it for better protection in Guanabara Bay. “Their whole body, like you would a body lotion all over yourself. Somebody says it’s like a prophylactic – I said, I guess it is. It binds to the skin and protects the skin from those outside elements. Every time a virus or bacteria would hit it, it would get that kill effect,” said Howlett.

The product has been approved by Canadian health authorities and is produced and sold in that country. Skinvisible is beginning the process to get the product approved here in the United States, which will take “probably three years and many millions of dollars,” said Howlett.

In the meantime, a Las Vegas lotion will leave its Olympic mark.

“We feel good because it’s a Nevada company. Las Vegas is our home, and this is where we’re at, and the product was developed here,” said Howlett.

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