“That’s where pharmacists started—making everything from scratch,” she said. “If you look back to the early 1900s, that’s what everyone was doing. You come in with some kind of tonic and they would make it for you right there. It was before any commercial drugs were really available. So I always really was interested from that perspective.”
Today, Hamilton is more than just interested in the subject. She is the pharmacist in charge at Sarouja Pharmacy, an independent compounding pharmacy.
Dr. Sam Alnajjar opened Sarouja—the name comes from a market in Damascus, Syria—in 2015. Alnajjar is a critical care doctor at Abrazo Central Campus in Phoenix, and some friends encouraged him to branch out, Hamilton said.
Compounding pharmacies can make medicines from scratch, using FDA-approved chemicals, that meet particular needs, such as being in a certain strength or form.
While compounding is a small portion of Sarouja’s business, it is an important one, Hamilton said.
“We’re basically serving people who couldn’t get medication otherwise,” she said. “This is medication that’s not commercially available.”
That can mean dosages adjusted for children or pets. Veterinary prescriptions make up about 30% of the compounding, Hamilton said.
Delivery from refrigerated trucks is another way Sarouja has distinguished itself since it first opened. As opposed to mailed medicine, Sarouja usually can deliver a medicine the same day it is available within a 10-mile radius. Thus, when coronavirus came, Sarouja already was set up to help.
Being a smaller independent pharmacy that compounds, Sarouja also builds relationships with patients and doctors, Hamilton said.
“I wanted to serve the community I live in,” she said. “That was really important to me.”
Medication your way
Many customers seek compounded medicines to address needs, such as an unusual dosage or different form, pharmacist Kynsi Hamilton said. Compounded medications, often not covered by insurance, are not prohibitively expensive when compared to out-of-pocket costs for commercial medications.
Average compounded prescription costs:
$35 per month
$45-$60 per month
3570 S. Val Vista Drive, Ste. 108, Gilbert
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sat.-Sun.