The medications you get from your local pharmacy are typically mass-produced, and in most cases there's a drug that will help you get well. But if you need a unique prescription made just for you, then you need a special pharmacy.
After a hysterectomy, Cathy Ravy took the drug Premarin to control her hot flashes. But when studies revealed that hormone replacement might cause serious health problems, her physician took her off the drug.
"I immediately started having hot flashes," Ravy said.
With no other pharmaceutical options, Ravy was on her own, 10News reported.
Fed up with hot flashes, Ravy went to a doctor who prescribed hormones prepared especially for her. The medication was prepared at San Diego's University Compounding Pharmacy, where pharmacists mix the right combination of hormones in just the right strength for each patient.
"The goal is to replace just what the body doesn't make and get the right strength so you don't have side effects, yet have enough to treat the situation," said John Grasela, the owner of University Compounding Pharmacy.
Ingredients used at the pharmacy are bio-identical and occur naturally, according to 10News.
"They're either derived from nature -- yams or soy. We take a plant into the lab and change its structure so it is identical to the human body structure," Grasela said.
Dr. Angelica Zaid specializes in treating hormone imbalances and prescribes bio-identical hormones for her patients because one size doesn't fit all when it comes to hormone replacement.
"Because pharmaceutical companies just have certain doses, many times they don't work for all women. So we'll need to modify it and the compounding pharmacies come in handy for that," Zaid said.
But it's not just hormones. If your system can't tolerate a certain drug, the active ingredients can be put in a trans-dermal cream.
According to 10News, there's also a growing market called cosmeseuticals.
"So what we've done is taken all anti-aging, anti-wrinkle and sun-damage drugs and put them into lotions that apply to the skin in the right concentration," Grasela said.
Cosmesuticals are available only by prescription because the ingredients are in higher doses than found at cosmetic counters.
The bottom line is if you're not getting relief from traditional medications, you might want to ask your doctor to prescribe something custom-made.
University Compounding Pharmacy is holding a series of seminars on menopause and natural hormone replacement.
For more information, call (619) 683-2005.
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