Jarron Yee is among a small but growing number of Canadian pharmacists who have recognized that adding compounding to their dispensary services can lead to sizable profits and a loyal and happy customer base.
By Randy Ray
When Yee, B.S.P., opened The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy and Compounding Centre in Regina in 2010 he was formulating one or two compound medications a day. In 2011 compounds accounted for 25 per cent of his dispensary business and in the summer of 2012, 40 per cent. By 2014, 60 per cent of his prescriptions were made in his dispensary.
Top compounding tips
- Acquire the best, most reliable equipment.
- Purchase the best chemicals and components.
- Train with a reputable organization such as PCCA.
- Develop a marketing campaign to inform physicians and the public about your compounding services.
- Tell other pharmacists about your services. Those who don’t compound will refer patients to you.
- Commit yourself and your staff to continuous learning as this is a field that is always changing.
Compounding, which enables pharmacies to customize medications to patients and their illnesses, will soon be responsible for about $200,000 in additional revenue at Yee’s 1,800-sq. ft. pharmacy, one of just two pharmacies in southern Saskatchewan that offer compounding services
“When I opened I found a huge number of patients were not having their needs met, either because their medications were on back order or had been discontinued, or because what they were being prescribed was not solving their problems. We soon became a resource for the community. … people came in with issues and compounding is a way to solve them,” says Yee, a status aboriginal who is a member of the Wood Mountain First Nation in Saskatchewan and whose pharmacy is the first aboriginal owned and operated pharmacy in Canada.
But while adding or improving compounding may help pharmacies improve their balance sheets and better address patients’ needs, fat profits are not a given: success requires education, training, a significant investment in equipment and a marketing plan aimed at both physicians and customers, says Sebastian Denison, a pharmacy consultant with the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA), which expanded to Canada in 1983 to help pharmacies develop the compounding side of their businesses.
Denison estimates less than five per cent of Canadian pharmacies compound more than 15 prescriptions a day.
“Compounding is not simply throwing together ingredients and hoping for the best, but a set of specialized techniques and knowledge of pharmaceutics that allow compounding pharmacists to address the needs of the patient. It is required by all colleges in Canada that all pharmacists must have the basic ability to compound simple mixtures, but to become successful, compounding pharmacists require further education and training,’’ says Denison, who notes that the current climate in pharmacy is predisposing many pharmacies to look at compounding as a new revenue stream because many provinces do not cover compounds and it is a patient pay business.
Yee, who specializes in pharmaceutical compounding with a focus on veterinary compounding, aseptic compounding, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, and pain management therapy, is among those who have turned to PCCA for advice, counselling, equipment and drug components, all of which are provided as part of a $15,000 annual membership fee.
He and his pharmacy staff members have taken more than a dozen courses through PCCA, including introductory compounding, sterile compounding, veterinary compounding and pain management. He has purchased about $150,000 worth of equipment from the organization, including a containment hood, an ointment mill, a capsule machine and an electric mortar and pestle.
PCCA also advised him on the construction of a 500-sq. ft. in-store laboratory and helped him and his staff develop a marketing plan to let physicians and patients know his store offers compounding. Yee’s total investment to date is about $200,000.
Once pharmacists have been trained to develop compounds, they must develop a marketing strategy to get the word out to doctors and customers, he says. The Medicine Shoppe marketing plan involves meeting physicians one on one, holding luncheon meetings with doctors and patients, consulting with patients in the store and sending flyers to customers and doctors that make it clear the pharmacy offers compounding.