Nova Scotia

Customized prescriptions on the rise in Halifax

A Halifax pharmacy that tailors prescriptions to meet the needs of individual patients is seeing an increase in demand.

A Halifax pharmacy that tailors prescriptions to meet the needs of individual patients is seeing an increase in demand.

The service is known as compounding, where a pharmacist creates drugs from scratch using the original ingredients.

A lab tucked at the back of Ravine's Pharmasave pharmacy in Bedford has been customizing medications to relieve everything from pain to baldness.

One of its services is making hormones identical to those found in people. Some consider them risky but menopausal women frustrated by one-size-fits-all hormone treatments say they're worth it.

"They don't find they are getting any results with what's commercially available. Women have said to me 'Well I guess this normal. I'm 60 now, I guess I can't expect to have a sex life' and really we aren't going to get them back to being 25, but we can do pretty well to make their life healthy and rewarding," said Andrew Buffet, the owner of Ravine's Pharmasave.

Compounding means medicine can often be made in an alternative form to pills to avoid side effects.

The lab is also making medicine for patients looking for substitutes for prescription drugs which are no longer being manufactured.  That may have something to do with Ontario's decision to reduce how much it will pay companies for drugs no longer under patent.

"If the drug isn't profitable anymore, they are just making the decision they won't bother making it anymore for the few patients who are still taking it. So what we've seen is patients saying 'I would still like to take this medication. It works for me, so how do I get my hands on it'?" said Buffet.

Those who do get compounded medication should be prepared to pay for it themselves, since most drug plans don't cover made-to-order medicine. 

 

now