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Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown is a throw back to the old days – it custom makes medications

Jennifer Lutley, a laboratory technician at Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown, uses a piece of equipment in the pharmacy’s compounding lab. The lab produces half a dozen medications from scratch that have Health Canada’s approval. DAVE STEWART/THE GUARDIAN
Jennifer Lutley, a laboratory technician at Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown, uses a piece of equipment in the pharmacy’s compounding lab. The lab produces half a dozen medications from scratch that have Health Canada’s approval. DAVE STEWART/THE GUARDIAN - The Guardian

A pharmacy on St. Peters Road in Charlottetown is offering a unique service in P.E.I. – custom-made medications.

These days it’s common place to see rows of commercially patented medications behind the counter of pharmacies.

At Parkdale Pharmacy, part of the Murphy’s Pharmacy chain, they can make their own medications and supply other pharmacies as well.

The pharmacy that made Sid’s Cream famous for treating diaper rashes now manufacturers its own brand called Tender Bottoms.

“There are lots of pharmacies that do kind of off the end of the counter kind of compounding simple stuff but if there’s anything complicated or that has to be developed, they send it to us,’’ said Allan Greene, manager of Parkdale Pharmacy.

“There’s lots of times when a drug gets discontinued we can access the raw ingredient so we can make things like that for people. Sometimes drugs aren’t available (or) they’re backordered. We can make those.’’

Or, sometimes there are situations where a medication is available, but not in the strength a physician or pharmacy wants. Parkdale Pharmacy can fill the prescription.

Allan Greene, manager of Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown, said there isn’t enough patented medication for all people of all ages. There are times where medications are only available in certain strengths and that particular strength may not be suitable for a particular patient. He says that’s one reason why the pharmacy manufacturers its own medications. DAVE STEWART/THE GUARDIAN
Allan Greene, manager of Parkdale Pharmacy in Charlottetown, said there isn’t enough patented medication for all people of all ages. There are times where medications are only available in certain strengths and that particular strength may not be suitable for a particular patient. He says that’s one reason why the pharmacy manufacturers its own medications. DAVE STEWART/THE GUARDIAN

The compounding laboratory is located behind wall of glass so the public can see everything as it happens. They can see, for example, that Parkdale Pharmacy is the only pharmacy with an ointment mill so it can make creams like Tender Bottoms or Tender Skin.

Greene agrees that it’s a return to pharmacies’ roots, citing the old Johnson and Johnson pharmacy at the corner of Prince and Kent streets (now Hunter’s Ale House. Physicians used to call up and request custom-made medication.

“We custom make based on individual need. We can make it flavoured for you. If you don’t like the liquid we can make it into a lollipop. We make all kinds of things that aren't commercially available that there’s still a need for.’’

Greene said they also supply the Atlantic Veterinary College.

“There’s lots of human medications used in animals, but the strengths are wrong. So, we may have liquids that are tuna or chicken or beef flavoured for bunnies, rats, dogs, cats, all kinds of (animals). We have lots of creams that are put on the insides of cats’ ears for thyroid disorders.’’

They even manufacture a treatment for motion sickness not available in Canada anymore. Greene said it’s only taken once a day and doesn’t cause drowsiness.

And, all of this is done under strict Health Canada rules, a process that involves submitted an application showing the ingredients, how the medication will be used and all pertinent safety data.

“Health Canada makes you jump through hoops to make sure that it’s safe and effective and will be used for the population intended.’’

Greene stresses that all of this takes very specialized training and equipment, a reason why more pharmacies aren’t doing it.

“It’s a very unique niche that we fill but there’s still a need. It allows people in P.E.I. access to things that normally aren’t available and then we don’t have to go off Island to get it.’’

dave.stewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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