By Lorelei Lawson
We all want to feel better, look better, and get the most out of life at every age. Advancements in prescription medication, vitamins, minerals and supplements can help us achieve our physical and mental well-being. But where do you turn when the standard dosages or forms of medication will not work for you or your family member? In the Hattiesburg area, you can turn to VitalCare Compounder, Mississippi’s first pharmacy dealing exclusively in compounding.
“We can tailor our medication to our customers with special needs, and the typical big-box retailer can’t,” said VitalCare Compounder’s Ron Edwards. “We are better able to serve individual customers. The big box pharmacies do a great job in what they do, service a large number of people, but serving the individual is what we do best.”
Life-changing and life-saving medications are prescribed by physicians and dispensed all over the world every day, but often these drugs are not suitable for all patients needing them. This is where VitalCare Compounder excels, in getting the crucial medication to those patients who have special needs.
Sometimes patients have no trouble with the standard dosage of their prescription, but may have allergies or sensitivities to the preservative used in typical medications. VitalCare Compounder can produce the exact same drug, in the same dosage, but without the preservatives that may keep the patient from taking the drug.
Many drugs contain certain dyes that some patients cannot take due to allergy or other issues. VitalCare will make up their medication in a dye-free form. The staff at VitalCare can also change the way the medication is delivered: Producing prescriptions in various forms from tablet to capsule to dissolvable — even injectables or topical creams.
“A lot of people are sensitive to red dye, and we can make up their prescription in the same strength,” Edwards said. “For children’s medication, even fever reducer, we can change the flavor.”
Certain medication for nausea and vomiting is often available in only a few forms, such as orally or suppository. VitalCare Compounder can create a topical cream that patients may rub on their wrists for relief. The nausea and vomiting is relieved without the problems that using a standard form can bring.
The youngest patients often come to VitalCare Compounder seeking medications that they cannot find at most big-box retailers.
“We have a lot of children who need heart medication,” Edwards said. “They have had heart surgery, and they can’t take the commercially available product. We cut down the dosage for them.”
VitalCare Compounder uses highly-trained pharmacists and technicians to compound the right drug, in the right dosage, and in the right form in their sterile 1,500-square-foot “clean room.” Raw chemicals are delivered to VitalCare, and then made up into the proper form and dosage for each individual prescription as it comes in.
The sterile environment in the clean room includes technicians who don gowns, gloves, hats, and masks, much like physicians going into surgery. The air entering the room is filtered. The facility is inspected twice a year by an outside agency to make sure the strict sterile guidelines are being observed.
All employees are tested four times a year in preparing products, ensuring that each prescription filled is done with the highest standards.
“We use the latest technology available, but it is still a manual process,” Edwards said. “It is very labor intensive, but it is customized medication.”
A Team Approach
Often, patients want to improve their quality of life and turn to VitalCare Compounder for help in feeling better and living better. VitalCare offers the finest vitamins and supplements available, all in the highest, or pharmaceutical, grade.
“There are three grades of supplements from food grade; what you might find at a discount store, all the way up to pharmaceutical grade, which we offer,” Edwards said. “Pharmaceutical grade means these products are put through the same tests by the Food and Drug Administration as prescription drugs.”
VitalCare will work with patients and their physicians to find the most effective solutions to each individual’s needs.
“We call it the triad,” Edwards said. “It’s the patient, the physician, and the pharmacist working together. We probably do 20 or 30 individual consultations a week. We can make recommendations to the physician, and when he sends back the prescription, we can fill it.”
Many clients come to VitalCare seeking alternatives to prescription drugs, and the company’s four pharmacists work with them to develop a plan to help with their symptoms.
“We have a lot of people who come in looking for an alternative treatment for arthritis,” Edwards said. “Their joints hurt, and we can recommend a supplement for relief of their symptoms. A lot of times prescription medications might not be the best route. A lot of oral medications upset the stomach. We have supplements that might help relieve the symptoms without the stomach upset.”
VitalCare Compounder also works with patients to find the right vitamin or supplement for many different conditions.
“We can help post-menopausal women with hot flashes,” Edwards said. “We also have treatments available to help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Man and Man’s Best Friends
Not only does VitalCare Compounder do its best to help its human patients lead happy, healthy lives, it does the same for pets.
“We work with a lot of veterinarians, and we can help with a number of conditions,” Edwards said. “We do a lot for dry eyes, and thyroid conditions in cats. We work to make formulas to help man’s best friends: even if it’s just making beef-flavored tablets for dogs or tuna and fish flavors for cats. We can flavor any medication they might need.”
VitalCare can also help when your dog or cat turns up its nose at even the tastiest medications.
“We can produce a trans-dermal medication that is placed on the inside of the animal’s ear,” Edwards said. “They can’t get it out, and they get all the benefits of the medication.”
Making a Difference
Edwards, who came to Hattiesburg and VitalCare Compounder after many years in large-retail pharmacies, both as a pharmacist and supervisor, is happy to have the chance to work with individuals to make their lives better each day.
“I’ve always been very interested in compounding,” Edwards explained. “I love people, and I love problem solving. VitalCare is an outstanding company. We’re problem-solvers, and we’re able to help people. It’s a pleasure to help people and to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s very rewarding.”
A History of Excellence
VitalCare Compounder is the outgrowth of more than 100 years in the pharmacy business. Owner Robert Donnell, who began working for Love Discount Drug in 1968, later took over the business which had been a landmark in downtown Hattiesburg since 1907. Last year, the business moved to their current home at 115 South 40th Avenue in Hattiesburg with its large compounding facility and two conference rooms. Jimmy Rodgers, Missy James, and Donnell had worked together for more than 25 years when Edwards came on board about three years ago.
The pharmacy made the change from the traditional drug store to include compounding in 1998, and with all the changes in integrative medicine, compounding has become its backbone.
You can stop in and meet with the staff at VitalCare Compounder, or visit their website at www.vitalcarecompounder.com. To schedule an appointment with one of VitalCare Compounder’s pharmacists, call 601-261-0503.
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