Michelle's Pharmacy offering compounding services

Michelle’s Pharmacy offering compounding services

Patients in the Gillespie and Carlinville areas who need customized medications can now utilize local pharmacies to meet that need instead of having to rely on pharmacies out of the area.

“Compounding is basically preparing personalized medications from scratch for patients and mixing the ingredients together to create the exact strength and dosage form customized to the patient’s need,” said Pharmacist Ashley Dix of Michelle’s Pharmacy in Gillespie. “Medications don’t always meet specific patient needs, and this is where we can jump in and do that.”

According to Dix, Michelle’s Pharmacy in Gillespie has offered compounding services for topical medications since June, but participation in the program has been low as word has been slow to get out to physicians. “A lot of them don’t realize we’re doing it yet, so we don’t have a lot of traction yet,” Dix said. Eventually, the goal is to offer other types of compounds, such as suppositories, suspensions, capsules and possibly lozenges.

Currently, compounding services are focused on bioidentical hormone replacement and — precisely matching what a specific patient’s body produces in terms of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone — and pain management. The creams are ideal for patients who cannot tolerate oral pain medications, Dix said, noting that the pharmacy can combine medications for different aspects of pain, such as arthritis, muscle pain or neuropathic pain, and then the patients can apply the ointments directly to the location of the pain.

Dix described the multi-step process of compounding ointments as “fun, kind of like baking.” The first step is to weight out each ingredient on a hooded scale, then combine them with a base. That mixture goes into a high-powered mixing machine called an unguator, then into an ointment mill, which takes the grittiness out of the mixture and makes it smooth. The mix is then returned to the unguator once more before it is packaged.

All compounding is being done out of a small room in the Gillespie pharmacy, but the pharmacy can also provide compounding services for patients who visit the Carlinville branch. Dix can work directly with the patients and their doctors to come up with the right formula. “We sit down and talk about symptoms and what they’re going through, and then we can communicate with the doctor and figure out what would be best for them,” she said, noting that consultations are free.

She noted that if a patient is unhappy with their medication or is having unacceptable side effects, they can contact the pharmacy to find out if a compound medication might be better for them. “If there’s not something out there, we will try to make it for them,” she said. “That’s the great thing about compounding. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

Dix said that a lot of insurance companies cover compound medications, but some do not. “We’re having trouble with Public Aid and Medicare,” she said. However, she noted that the pharmacy will work with patients on the price of a compound if their insurance won’t cover it. “It’s not something that’s out of their price range, typically,” she said.