Tag Archives: compounding pharmacist

When it Comes to Natural Hormone Balancing a Compounding Pharmacist is your Friend: How to find the right one

When it comes to balancing your hormones with bioidentical approaches, getting to know a  reliable, compounding pharmacist in your area is an essential first step. Few traditional pharmacists better understand the biochemistry of hormones in the body, or can tailor a prescription to individual need based on hormone test results. And if you have a problem swallowing pills, a skilled compounder can solve that with sublingual troches that taste good while dissolving under the tongue, non-allergenic topical creams that can be applied anywhere on the skin, or vaginal suppositories, nasal sprays, drops, tinctures, you name it! Many of these specially designed delivery systems are so effectively absorbed by the body it takes much less hormone to achieve much greater benefit… the so-called “Goldilocks” approach to dosing hormones appropriately – not too much nor too little, but just right!

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Looking for safe solutions to hormone balance? It’s important to get all the facts and ask the right questions to find a GOOD compounding pharmacist.

Every since the WHI (Women’s Health Initiative Study) found that synthetic hormones like those used in common HRT combinations, increased risks for stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and breast cancer, compounding pharmacists across the country have become key players in the shift to natural hormones and the Bioidentical Hormone Restoration model, a.k.a. BHRT, where patients, providers, and compounders partner to detect and correct imbalances that diminish health …not to mention energy, mood, memory, strength, libido…I could go on…and on!

As happens every now and then, the bad practices of one pharmacy can cast aspersions upon all. In one such incident last year, a pharmacy in Massachusetts used improper procedures in formulating a sterile medication which led to an outbreak of meningitis and the death of hospital patients injected with the toxin. In light of this tragic event, it seems appropriate to clarify that it is exceedingly rare and to talk about the regulation of pharmacy, and safety measures that GOOD compounders use.

For starters, all compounding pharmacies are subject to government oversight by three different regulatory agencies: 1) the State Board of Pharmacy, which ensures adherence to state laws and good pharmacy 2) the FDA, which regulates the integrity of the drugs and active ingredients compounders purchase; and 3) the DEA, which regulates how compounding businesses buy and dispense controlled substances.

Evidently, the pharmacy in Massachusetts, (the New England Compounding Center)  had previously received warning letters from the FDA, ignored safety guidelines, and, had illegally shipped prescriptions to states in which they were not a licensed pharmacy. Not only was the purity of the chemicals they used questionable given the meningitis outbreak, this particular facility was known as an “outlier” in the compounding world.  According to Natalie Gustafson, RPh., and owner of Pacific Compounds and Lloyd Center pharmacies, in Hillsboro, and Portland, Oregon, “these people were not even closely representative of how most pharmacies operate, which is to put the patient first and to have numerous quality control measures in place to ensure the safety of patients and employees alike.”  Natalie, and her assistant, Pharm-Tech, Cory Dolan, emphasize that to find a compounder you can trust absolutely, it is essential that you talk with them and ask the following key questions:

  • Have you passed inspection by your governing bodies: The State Board of Pharmacy: FDA and the DEA? Have you ever been written up by your State Board?
  • Are you licensed by PCCA (Pharmaceutical Compounding Centers of America)?
  • Do you use only pure USP grade chemicals?
  • Do you run any outside testing of the sterility and potency of your formulations by impartial labs?
  • Do you have safety measures in place like human checks of  all prepared formulas in addition to computer checks?
  • Do you individually label, bar-code, and record the chemicals used in your formulations?
  • Do you have a clean room (with powder hood, etc.) to reduce cross-contamination?
  • Do you use the latest technology your industry has to offer?
  • Do you and your staff regularly obtain continuing education credits and training?

Bottom line: Your compounder is your friend, if and only if, they can answer all the questions above with resounding positives!

How to find a good compounder? Easy. Get to know who has a name in your area. Talk to your provider and find out who she/he recommends, or visit PCCA’s website: www.pcca.com or International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists: www.iacprx.org  for a list of trained compounders  by zipcode. Conversely, if you are looking for a provider (see my July 31, 2012 post: How to Find a Natural-Hormone Friendly Provider) your compounding pharmacist is an excellent resource since they know all the docs in town who know what they’re doing when prescribing bioidenticals. ZRT Laboratory, a top hormone testing lab in the country has a great provider resource directory that includes providers and compounders at www.zrtlab.com

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Stop by your local compounding pharmacy…Ask if they have a viewing room where you can check out their “clean room”  and see pharmacy technicians in sterile garb hard at work preparing your personalized prescription.

Once you find someone that sounds good, stop by their pharmacy. Check out their premises, the levels of cleanliness, certificates and registrations of their technicians, available information and resources. A top level facility should ideally have a viewing window where you can observe technicians hard at work under the hood, in the clean room, attired as they should be in the appropriate sterile garb, etc.. A GOOD compounder should offer medical professionals and interested patients tours of their lab and safety procedures. These are the kinds of things to look for so that you can trust your compounder without a shadow of a doubt.

Please chime in to this conversation if you yourself happen to be a compounding pharmacist,  natural friendly hormone provider or concerned health care consumer looking for hormone balance!! Tell us your experience of working with compounders and stay tuned for Kyle’s upcoming blog post from the provider perspective!

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Filed under Women's Health & Happiness

How to Find a Natural Hormone (bioidentical) Friendly Health Care Provider

In the ten years since the the Women’s Health Initiative put the kabosh on HRT, millions of women stopped using PremPro, the combination of horse-derived estrogen and synthetic progestin found to literally be causing all the problems it was supposed to be protecting us against! When the higher risks for heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer were revealed as outweighing the so-called benefits of the billion dollar drug too many of us had trusted for decades, the researchers halted the the study immediately – three years early.

European women use bioidenticals for balance

In the ensuing years while many women have successfully migrated to bioidentical hormones made from plant substances, millions of other women who chucked their HRT into the bin are still out in the cold, afraid to use any type of hormones at all. This is a crying shame given the fact that hormones govern our every motion and emotion, protect our bones, blood vessels, hearts, brains, and breasts from disease, decay and rapid aging, AND that too many of us are missing out on the benefits of bioidenticals that our European counterparts have enjoyed for decades.

Part of the challenge is that when the bad news about hormones hit the headlines in 2002, many providers had to jettison the old one-size fits all approach to menopause with nothing in place to take its place. Dr. JoAnn Manson, the new director of NAMS (North American Menopause Society), and one of the WHI’s lead investigators underlined this in a recent interview alluding to the “many, many clinicians who no longer prescribe, or know how to prescribe.” She goes on to say, “this isn’t a good situation for women who are having severe menopausal symptoms. They’re going to have trouble finding clinicians who will help them make the most informed decision.” Not a good situation indeed, but for women still seeking safer solutions ten years on from the WHI, Kyle and I can assure YOU that the situation is improving by the minute.

To put this into perspective …. when I became the Director of Education at ZRT Laboratory (one of the largest hormone testing labs in the country) in 2000, just 25 per cent of our clients were health care providers; the rest were consumers looking for answers on their own. Eight years later licensed health care providers had climbed to 75 per cent of our client base, a number that signalled a paradigm shift  from hormone replacement to hormone balance. Pretty promising huh! Not to mention the growing numbers of health educators like me and lifestyle counselors/coaches coming on line to help women explore their options for safe, natural symptom relief.

So, if you are one of those women still feeling confused or out of the loop when it comes to your hormones, we have resources aplenty for you starting with your local compounding pharmacist. The majority of these brainy biochemists really get it when it comes to the whys and wherefores of hormone action in the body and are trained in BHRT (the bioidentical hormone restoration model). Not only are these folks themselves fountains of information, they can usually point you in the direction of health care providers who will test your hormones and are trained to prescribe natural hormone therapies tailored to individual needs. So that’s your first port of call, a face to face with your friendly local compounder, or you can find them by visiting www.iacprx.org.

Next stop are the excellent online resources that enable you to find a provider in your area by simply popping your zipcode into the required field. The best of these can be found at: www.womeninbalance.org, or www.zrtlab.com
Just go to their “find a provider” referral tab. If you need to lose weight you can get a head start on the process by identifying the hormone imbalances that contribute to weight gain through MRC weight loss centers around the country www.emetabolic.com. Their Body in Balance program is the first ever to address hormone imbalance in a nation-wide weight loss program. Awesome!

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon you can get in touch with Kyle or myself to explore your options for finding balance in your hormones and in your lives! This is a Menopausibilities essential truth:

Finding, being and staying in balance is a work in progress – take the first step NOW!

Being in balance.

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Filed under Candace Burch, Women's Health & Happiness