Rx, Just for You

Offering custom-tailored prescriptions in precise dosages and forms, a compounding pharmacy expands to meet demand

Photo: Ultimate Care Compounding owners, Ashleigh Kirby and Monica Miatello

WHEN YOU NEED to get a medical prescription filled, most folks simply head to a nearby pharmacy without thinking much about an alternative.

But what if the medication you’ve used for years is no longer available? What if you have allergies to commonly used mass-produced medicine fillers like gluten or dyes? What if you need a specific dosage or strength that is not found in mass-produced formulations?

In cases like these, your doctor might recommend having your prescription filled at a compounding pharmacy like Ultimate Care Compounding.

Compounding is the art and science of creating personalized medicine for specific patient needs, and some pharmacies will do compounding if it is required. What makes UCC unique, say owners Monica Miatello and Ashleigh Kirby, is that their pharmacy is solely focused on compounding ­custom medications.

“We don’t sell any mass produced or over-the-counter products,” says Miatello. “We make customized medication from scratch. It’s a very patient-centred approach. We spend a lot of time doing assessments and consultations—whatever the issue is we will hear them out and find a solution.”

“We offer individualized dosing options that suit a patient’s specific needs, and provide tried-and-true therapies that are temporarily or permanently no longer available to Canadians”— Ashleigh Kirby

Miatello has been a pharmacist for 30 years and, like most, she learned basic compounding in school. Since then, she has taken specialized courses. “There are probably four pharmacists in the city that have [my] level of training,” she says.

The business partners met when Kirby was a sales rep for a company supplying raw compounding ingredients. Both saw a need for more doctor and patient education around compounded medications and decided to open their own compounding ­pharmacy in October of 2017.

Two years in, the business has expanded to larger quarters at 365 Horton Street East. The 1,500-square-foot store front has two laboratory rooms built to comply with new regulations that are due to be introduced in 2021, and two pharmacy technicians who work with Miatello to produce the compounds. There is also a large room where they can hold education seminars for medical practitioners as well as the public.

“Knowledge is power,” says Kirby. “We want to be a resource for physicians and for pharmacies that don’t do compounding, and we want to inform patients so that they can better advocate for themselves.”

UCC also conducts lunch and learns at clinics and medical buildings. “For doctors, we offer an alternative to pharma when they have run out of options for a patient,” says Kirby.

Common compounding requests are for multi-modal pain, where Miatello builds a formulation that combines multiple medications; for anti-inflammatory and pain ­control formulations, often in a topical cream for patients who suffer side-effects from oral medications; for ­bio-­identical hormone replacement therapy where strength of dosage can make a huge difference in ­controlling ­symptoms; for erectile dysfunction medications in a ­rapid-dissolve tablet that provides a quicker response at a lower cost; and for dermatological and dental formulations.

“We offer individualized dosing options that suit a patient’s specific needs, and provide tried-and-true therapies that are temporarily or permanently no longer available to Canadians,” says Kirby. “We also work with the patient to provide cost-effective solutions to everyday medications.”

Many of UCC’s patients live in small towns, rural ­communities and remote areas that don’t have ­compounding pharmacies. Prescriptions are filled and product is mailed through Canada Post with UCC covering the mailing cost. “We do charge a $15 dispensing fee,” says Kirby, “Some prescriptions are covered by drug plans, but not all. But for the most part, people who have reached the end of the line in terms of options are more than willing to pay for something that works.” Kym Wolfe

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