Calhoun has been a pharmacist for 25 years, since graduating from the Samford School of Pharmacy in Birmingham (now named the McWhorter School of Pharmacy). He has owned Golden Springs Pharmacy, at 3320 Henry Road in Anniston, since 1991, when he purchased the drugstore from the original owner, Bill Gann, who built it in 1965.
Golden Springs Pharmacy is considered a “hybrid” business. Not only does the pharmacy fill traditional prescriptions – with products mass-produced by pharmaceutical companies – it also fills non-traditional prescriptions, with compounded ingredients from an in-house laboratory.
Calhoun has always compounded orders specific to a customer’s need, but compounding constituted only a small percent of the prescriptions filled at Golden Springs Pharmacy. One of the limitations for growth was the lab itself. The space available was less than 180 square feet.
Over the years, Calhoun often dreamed of opening a “pure” compounding apothecary, but it wasn’t until he failed to get a tenant for an empty doctor’s office he owned on the same site as his current business that he was able to realize the dream.
Calhoun Compounding Pharmacy opened its doors in January. Calhoun and pharmacist Michelle Pinson, a 2011 McWhorter School of Pharmacy graduate, along with three staff members, operate the 2,500-square-foot facility. The lab is the only pure compounding pharmacy in our area.
Pinson geared her school rotations to include as much compounding experience as possible, since she knew she wanted to move back to the Anniston area and work with Calhoun specifically. “Compounding really gives you the opportunity to mold drugs to the patient’s individual needs,” she said.
Calhoun moved to compound drugs for that very reason when he first was licensed as a pharmacist. By request of a local nurse practitioner who worked for an obstetrician, Calhoun compounded a progesterone product to help a high-risk pregnant mother reach term. Calhoun says that baby is now 24 years old.
Q&A with pharmacist Donnie Calhoun
Calhoun recently talked about his new compounding pharmacy:
Q: What exactly is compounding?
A: Prior to World War II, almost every prescription was compounded. After that, drugs that were previously individually made were mass-produced, because you didn’t have pharmacists out on the battlefields. Most pharmaceutical companies were started by pharmacists, and a lot of prescription drugs are proprietary because the company owns the patent.
Compounded prescriptions are customized medications to meet specific patient needs. Not all patients are the same. Not the same height or weight or can tolerate things the same.
Compounding services are known about more now than ever before by patients because of the access patients have to data on the Internet, or sometimes they read about it in medical journals. Compounding is driven from patient need.
Q: Who can compound drugs? What are your limitations?
A: Pharmacists can’t compound any patented drugs. We can create variations of drugs. The doctor has to OK the prescription. We do a lot of work for local doctors. I have built a longterm relationship with local doctors who have confidence in my skill set and qualifications.
If there is a generic drug available, you don’t need to compound unless it is in a form they can’t tolerate. For instance, if they have trouble swallowing pills, we can change a tablet to a liquid or sup-pository.
Q: Which patients benefit from compounded prescriptions?
A: Those who require different formulations, like those who have difficulty swallowing or those with certain allergies. We compound a lot for Children’s Hospital, for babies, especially those with heart problems and for older people. For those with dermatology issues. And we do quite a bit for veterinary patients.
We can create topical products in a lot of cases that are very accurate to deliver the exact amount. We can put prescriptions in just about anything – tubes, pump sprayers, nasal sprayers, dropper bottles, capsules, lollipops – which are very popular with kids – suppositories, injections.
Q: Are compounded prescriptions more expensive?
A: We have very reasonable fees, but it really depends on what the prescription is for. It can be a fraction of the cost of a brand-name drug. We help patients use their insurance benefits as much as possible.
Q: What other services do you offer?
A: Hormone therapy, saliva tests, skin therapy, vitamins, flu shots and more.
Calhoun Compounding Pharmacy
• 3320 Henry Road, Suite E, Anniston