P rescription Compounding. Nearly half of all prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy are custom-compounded, bio-identical hormones, which are personalized for each patient as prescribed by a physician. Over the next few years, these numbers are expected to increase.
Since a 2002 Woman’s Health Initiative study linked traditional hormone therapy to increased health risks, hormonally imbalanced women have been seeking safer alternatives to FDA-approved hormone therapies with fewer side effects. This landmark study was nothing new to us. We have been praising the benefits of natural hormone replacement to patients (and their physicians) that were using conventional therapy and other patients just seeking a better way.
By this time we were being sought out as experts in the field of bio-identical hormone replacement, but not before doing our homework. During the latter years of the 1990’s, not a great deal was being written on progesterone or the other common replacement hormones, estrone, estradiol, estriol, and testosterone, so we did the next best thing. All we sought was to copy Mother Nature and put back the hormones that were missing. The physiology books would list the normal levels and effects in the body and the pathophysiology books gave the abnormal. Then, Dr. John Lee, the doctor who pioneered the use of transdermal progesterone cream and bio-identical hormones, wrote Natural Progesterone, The Multiple Roles of a Remarkable Hormone. Finally, someone had the courage to buck the medical establishment and base treatment upon reestablishing normal natural hormonal levels.
And it worked. Other renowned physicians joined in. Katharina Dalton of the UK told of her use of vaginal progesterone suppositories. We found out quickly that during lectures, unfiltered bits of priceless information could be yours for just being there, so we were. We attended lectures in the round in Manhattan with Serafina Corsello, MD, author of The Ageless Woman. We learned our ABC’s of the Tri-Estrogen (later Bi-Estrogen), from Jonathan Wright, MD. We bought multiple copies of our favorite books currently being offered, and lent them out to patients, suggesting to pass them on to friends when they were finished. Hundreds were “loaned” out. In 2001, when Natural Hormone Balance for Women, by Uzzi Reiss, MD became hard to find, I photocopied chapters for my patients. If they could find their symptoms in those pages, then we won.
Eventually, we were the ones giving the lectures—at AT&T, the local community college, and even here in the pharmacy.
When you find something you truly believe in—something that can benefit a great number of patients, enables safer hormonal health and well being at a low cost and works almost instantly—you might just want to shout it from the rooftop! In the past 10 years we have dispensed over 3,000 prescriptions for the top two progesterone strengths prescribed, 5% and 10%. Our 31.5% increase over the previous year was our strongest year, but our job is not done. As long as patients continue to struggle with hormone balance, we will continue giving talks. Often times, this happens one-on-one in the aisle of the pharmacy, using a page or two of handouts from the classes we’ve previously taught, while putting everything else on hold. We feel what could be more important than taking advantage of these impromptu opportunities to educate our patients?
P.S. Hormone replacement for men took a giant step forward when I was in my mid-fifties and began my own journey to hormone health. We’ll see you in the aisle! —Robert Gazsi, Chief Pharmacist.
Our feathered and furry friends do not go unnoticed in the compounding lab at the Far Hills Integrative Pharmacy. Customized veterinary products, human products made animal friendly, transdermals – all can be transformed for your pet to instantly change medication time from a test of wit and skill into a more pleasant experience. Talk to our compounding pharmacists.