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Pharmacy Offers Tailored Medications and Old-Fashioned Service

Jul 25, 2014 05:14PM ● By Carrie Jackson

Kelsey Smith

While pharmaceutical compounding, or the creation of a particular pharmaceutical product prescribed as medication for a patient, has roots with ancient hunters and gatherers, it didn’t become regulated by the federal government until the early 20th century. Compounding now makes up about 3 percent of the United States prescription market, and is used in hospitals and health care facilities everywhere. Save Rite Pharmacy, in Chicago, began offering compounded medications in 2009, and Pharmacist Kelsey Smith, RPh, PharmD says it really broadened the options for their patients.

“Pharmaceutical compounding is to prepare or formulate a specific dosage form from chemical ingredients that would be catered to a patient’s specific needs that may not be readily available on the marketplace,” says Smith. Save Rite is a member of the Professional Compounding Center of America, and has full access to their compounding library.

Commercially available tablets and other medications contain large amounts of inactive fillers, including corn and gluten products. Since many people can’t tolerate these fillers, a big part of Smith’s job is to prepare standard medications with hypoallergenic fillers that are easily dispersible in the body.

A prescription for a compounded medication can come from a doctor, a nurse practitioner, a midwife or even a veterinarian. Smith has made up compounds for all sorts of animals, including dogs, birds, and rats. “Animals have the same kind of allergies we do, and are often on a number of medications that can interact with each other,” she says. It can also be difficult to administer medications to a finicky animal, so the pharmacy will work with the veterinarian to come up with a form of the medication that is easy to deliver.

Some people also need a medication administered in a different form. Save Rite will formulate prescriptions into topical creams, sublingual applications, vaginal or rectal suppositories, lollipops, nasal sprays and sinus irrigations. Compounded medications are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicare Part D. In many cases, they are actually less expensive than the original medication.

Compounding can also be beneficial for patients that need a limited dose strength, absorb or excrete medications abnormally, need a drug that has been discontinued by the manufacturer or are taking numerous medications. “Many blood thinners, such as warfarin, tend to react with other medications,” says Smith. “If we make the other medication in another form, such as a topical cream, that reaction won’t happen.”

The pharmacy sees patients with all kinds of illnesses and disorders, but some of the most common reasons people use compounding for are for treatments in gastroenterology, dermatology, infertility, pain management, neurological care, autism spectrum, attention deficit disorder, neonatal needs, nausea, erectile dysfunction and bioidentical hormonal therapy.

Smith also conducts hormone and pain consultations. “A woman who has had a hysterectomy will come in and she might be anxious, not be able to sleep, have low libido or have other side effects,” she says. “She might be looking for more natural ways to heal. I’ll answer her questions, do a medical history, and she can purchase a test kit to take home with her. We can set up a meeting with her doctor based on those lab results and try to find the best treatment.”

In addition to compounding, Save Rite is a full-service pharmacy. “We carry over-the-counter-medications, orthopedic braces, medical devices, snack foods, school supplies, sunglasses and everything else you’d expect,” says Smith. They’ve been in the same Lakeview neighborhood for over 20 years, and their customers are loyal. The pharmacy also has its own mail delivery service. “For $8, your medications will arrive the next day,” says Smith. That’s a huge benefit to their patients, because many mail order medications can take a week or more to arrive.

The pharmacy is open six days a week, and Smith is always on call. “If a patient has a question about whether a medication is right for them, I can do a consult or refer them to a physician I trust,” she says. They host educational seminars and trainings and really make a point of reaching out to their community. “It’s about making the patient feel as comfortable as possible,” says Smith.

For more information, call 773-525-0766 or visit

Carrie Jackson writes at