Pharmacist Erica Lykins mixes together a specialized medicine using a mortar and pestle March 21 at Lascassas Drugs, located in the northeastern portion of Rutherford County. (Photo by M. Hudgins)
Mortar and pestle has been the classic signature of a pharmacy, and now Lascassas Drugs is putting it back to use.
Located along Lascassas Pike, the independent pharmacy recently launched its compounding services after adding to its staff Erica Lykins, who earned her doctorate of pharmacy from the University of Tennessee’s health sciences program.
“It makes it more specific to your treatment,” explained Brian Messick, a doctor of public health who owns Lascassas Drugs with Candi Mathis, also a doctor of public health.
Patients can be tested to determine their exact levels, and Lykins will create a specific concoction to suit each person’s exact needs.
“Compounding can be used any time we need specialized medications that are not on the market,” she said.
Sometimes, a large pharmaceutical manufacturer discontinues a medication. Often this happens because not enough patients are taking the drug, so it is unprofitable to keep mass-producing it, according to the Professional Compounding Center of America, a complete resource for independent compounding pharmacy’s needs.
“Compounding allows a medication to be personalized for an individual patient. The ability to create these personalized medications allows compounding pharmacists to help patients with a wide variety of needs,” according to the center’s website.
Compounding pharmacists make medication allergy-friendly by formulating it to give the patient the treatment they need while leaving out the problematic ingredient.
Additionally, some medications have a very unpleasant flavor, which makes the patient less likely to take it as directed. A compounding pharmacist can flavor many medications to make it more palatable without compromising its effectiveness. This is especially handy when dealing with patients who may refuse medication, such as young children, elderly patients, or even pets.
Reeves-Sain on Memorial Boulevard and Mills Pharmacy on South Church Street both offer compounding, and Lykins says Lascassas Drugs extends compounding services to another geographic area.
After several ladies inquired about hormone replacement therapy, Lascassas Drugs began offerings its compounding services. Lykins pointed out the products she uses come from plants rather than pregnant mare urine, which is commonly used in hormone replacements therapy.
“We’re always looking for different niches – things we can do to help the people we serve – and that was a niche that we thought was needed,” Messick continued, calling compounding a “more specific therapy.”
Messick and Mathis said they previously wanted to offer the services but were limited in space and staff. Less than a year ago, they moved Lascassas Drug into its current home near Valley Growers on Lascassas Pike.
“Now in the new building, we have the space and have added Erica (Lykins) to be the one in charge and be the lead on that program,” Messick said.
Such offerings also reinforce the pharmacy’s focus on being customer-oriented.
“Most chains can’t offer it,” Messick said. “We have time to talk to our customer, we know our customer, and most of the folks who come in, we know them and speak to them.”
He explained how pharmacies have evolved into a volume-driven business, but Lascassas Drugs is “still trying to specialize in service. It’s one thing that sets us apart.”
As for patients using insurance, Messick said some companies cover the compounds, while others do not.
“If you have (insurance), we’re going to do our best to get it covered and to get it paid for,” he said.
While the company kicked off its compounding program with hormone replacement therapy, Lykins said she seeks to create medications for veterinarians and pediatricians, as well.
For information about Lascassas Drugs’ compounding program, visit lascassasdrugs.com
or call 615-896-9808.