Need Hard to Find Medicine? No Problem

For some medical patients with really specific needs, there’s an option available that even doctors themselves don’t always realize. Pharmacies that make medicine from scratch allow pharmacists to put in or take out whatever the patient might need. Bill Stamps tells us how it works.

PCCA powder compoundThey’re called compound pharmacies. These are pharmacies that can whip up a special batch of medicine to suit your specific needs. Gus Bassani works for Houston’s Professional Compounding Centers of America, or PCCA. He gives an example of what they do.

“Say for example your child is in need of a medication that is only available in a pill form and your child cannot swallow very well or isn’t able to take a pill yet, so the only way to get that medication in him or her would be to make that into a liquid formulation.”

Gus showed me how they can mix ingredients in their lab:

“Putting it into the glass mortal and pestle and I’m going to grind that powder down.”

The final product is a custom medicine that most often you can’t buy at a typical pharmacy.

“It’s almost like cooking in a way, but in this case, we’re dealing with very pure and unique pharmaceutical ingredients.”

PCCA mixing compoundsPCCA is a large company that sells the drug ingredients to other smaller compound pharmacies, like the Westchase Specialty Pharmacy where Lena Kozielski had to go to get thyroid medicine.

“My actual pharmacy is the one who sent me over here, because they couldn’t get my thyroid (medicine). And I’ve been very, very happy.”

“The physician switched her to a different medication that really wasn’t what she needed, she didn’t feel well on it and we ended up compounding the substitute  for what she really needed and now she’s feeling much better again.”

and its now on worldwide back order so this was a circumstance where we had to make a substitute for the commercially available medication.

PCCA liquid compoundsThat’s Chris Barnett who runs the pharmacy. If you’re not the kind who buys a lot of medicine, there may still be another reason for you to use these specialty pharmacists. Maybe you have pets.

“How do you get a pill down a cat?  Well, you may be able to do that once, but to do that on a regular basis and in a cat-friendly way, a compounding pharmacists can take that medication, put it into what’s called a transdermal cream that they rub on the inner ear of the cat and it delivers the medication through the skin and into the bloodstream of the cat.”

While all this may seem like a new way of doing business..whats interesting is that it’s actually old school. Before the days of the big drug companies, all medicine was made individually from scratch, just like they do at a compound pharmacies.