Pharmacy formulates custom medications
For the last 28 years Pharmacist Donna Barsky has not just been dispensing medication, but making it as well.
Plano-based Texas Star Pharmacy is a “compounding pharmacy,” or a pharmacy that makes custom-tailored medications based on what a patient needs.
“What we are able to do is perfectly focus the medication on the patient’s needs,” said Michael Barsky, Donna’s husband and co-owner of the pharmacy.
Compounding pharmacies are a relative rarity in the age of big-chain pharmacies that typically do not provide any compounding services.
What a compounding pharmacist typically does is take the active ingredient in a medication, such as testosterone or lidocane, and change the delivery method of the medication.
“For instance, if we have a patient that is a cancer patient and can’t swallow the medication, we can take that medication and make it a trans-dermal cream so it can be rubbed on the skin and absorbed.” Michael said. “We also make a lidocane-tetracane lollipop so when a kid is going in for surgery or something, they can suck on the lollipop for a few seconds to numb the mouth.”
A compounding pharmacist can also create medication for people who are allergic to dyes and fillers typically used in the drugs or combine multiple medications into one product.
There are limits to what a compounding pharmacist can do. First off, a prescription is still needed for every medication, no matter what it is used for.
“We’re not allowed to manufacture anything that is in production,” Michael said. “So if there is something in production, like hydrocodone, I can’t produce it unless it’s for a different strength or something else, like long-acting.”
Texas Star Pharmacy also maintains a clean room, with multiple levels of contaminate protection, so sterile injectable drugs can be created. Many surgical centers and hospitals commonly request custom drugs for specific patients and specialty surgeries.
Looking to the future, Michael expects the popularity of compounding pharmacies to explode.
“We have a model that we have been developing over the last couple of years—It’s called the ‘collaborative care’ model,” Michael said. “Basically we work with the doctor and the patient in developing the patient’s solutions.”
“They trust us to not just be a filler of prescriptions, but to be apart of the medical team. They diagnose and we help with the solutions to the problem. In a lot of cases, they will take the blood tests, send them to Donna, who analyzes them, and sends back her recommendations.”
“You’re actually developing solutions to people’s health,” Barsky said. “That’s what a compounder does.”
All new patients are given the opportunity to take part in a “brown bag session” with Donna.
During the session, Donna will visit the patients home to see all medications the patient is taking, prescription and over the counter, in addition to some of the food the patient eats.
“We do this because certain drugs shouldn’t be taken with juice or anything acidic. A lot of times doctors won’t tell them this,” Michael said. Multiple doctors can also prescribe two unrelated medications that do not interact well, which the pharmacy can catch and inform the doctor.
Texas Star Pharmacy stocks hundreds of medications, both prescription and over the counter, in addition to nutritional and orthopedic products.
Texas Star Pharmacy – Two Plano locations