September 26, 2010 12:00 AM |
Cherokee Custom Script Pharmacy in Holly Springs fills prescriptions for more than just people.
And animals are finding it easier to take their medicine with the help of pharmacist Dale Coker of Woodstock.
His compounding business began in 2000 when it became a service of Ball Ground Pharmacy, and he moved the operation to Holly Springs four years later.
Coker describes compounding as getting a drug “into dosage form that the patient can take,” whether it be a cream or sugar-free liquid. Compounding is the science of preparing a medication to fit the specific needs of a patient.
The pharmacy does “a fair amount” of work for animals, and is one of very few in the state that provide compounding services for them.
“Veterinarians were the first to accept compounding,” said Coker, 57, president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association for 2010-11. “There was greater acceptance in the veterinary community. Over time, it has become much more widely accepted.”
Compounding is important to the veterinary community, he said, because it requires more flavors, dosages and potency levels than commercially available medications supply.
Pharmacists through compounding can mix a discontinued medicine from scratch. They can also take substances a patient is allergic to out of medicine, combine multiple prescriptions into one pill and add flavors to medicine.
“Veterinarians, a lot of the time, have challenges” getting animals to take medications, he added.
Allison Shaw of Woodstock went to Coker for help with her pet goat, George.
George was suffering from bladder stones, and the veterinarian had prescribed daily doses of ammonium chloride. Getting George to take the medicine proved to be difficult.
“It is the most disgusting stuff you can imagine,” she said about ammonium chloride.
She worked with Coker to make the medication more palatable.
“He made up a licorice flavor, and George liked the flavor,” she said. “After about a year, he got sick of the licorice, and we went to butterscotch.”
She credits the compounding with giving George another two-and-a-half years of life before dying of old age at 13 years old.
Coker also works to advocate for compounding by meeting with legislators.
Earlier this year, Coker, along with other pharmacists from around the country and representatives from the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, met with politicians in Washington, D.C.
The goal is to see the Food and Drug Administration reconsider a policy that prohibits compounders of veterinary medicine from using bulk ingredients as their starting material.
Coker said working to help animals such as George the goat live longer is “very gratifying.”