According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2017-2018 flu season has seen the highest activity since the swine flu pandemic in 2009. More than half the country is experiencing high flu activity, and prescriptions for the antiviral drug to treat the flu are running low. The Food and Drug Administration released a statement in early February acknowledging “spot shortages” of antiviral treatments and the vaccine.
Recognizing a shortage of Tamiflu, MEDISCA customer, Shawn McKallagat, R.Ph., owner of Letourneau's Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. in Andover, MA stepped in and provided critical medication to patients. The pharmacists at Letourneau's made the generic version of the drug, oseltamivir, from raw ingredients in his compounding pharmacy. He filled prescriptions for patients over 50 miles away. Letourneau's is one of the few compounding pharmacies in the area that can construct the medication from raw ingredients, when commercial versions are in short supply.
MEDISCA spoke with Shawn McKallagat to find out more about his compounding pharmacy and how it served the community – and region – during a time of great need.
How long have you owned Letourneau’s?
The store has been in our family since 1926. I bought the pharmacy 30 years ago from my uncle.
How many staff members do you have?
We have a total staff of 10 employees. We also offer employment for students in Pharmacy school.
What made you decide to become a compounding-only pharmacy?
I have always adhered to the philosophy, “If you’re not changing, you are dying.” With all the reimbursement challenges in healthcare today, we made the decision to sell our traditional pharmacy business and become a compounding-only pharmacy. Performing the harder, more technical portions of pharmacy separates you from the competition. It also has allowed us to focus directly on patient needs; providing our community with the customized medication they require that improves their quality of life.
How many patients throughout your community do you serve?
We serve everybody in our community. Because the prescriptions are custom-made for each patient, it’s not unusual for our patients to travel a distance to receive their medications. The new compounding rules and regulations have limited the number of pharmacies that can actually compound. This has increased our exposure to surrounding communities.
What therapeutic areas do you primarily focus on?
Our areas of focus are pediatric; dermatology; veterinary; bioidentical hormone replacement therapy; and cancer treatments.
How often have you been called upon to provide life-saving medication during drug shortages?
Life-saving, not often, but there are many times when an appropriate alternative for a medication is not available. That’s when compounders can step in and help.
From your perspective, what value do compounders bring to the community they work and live in? How do patients benefit? And, why is this important to you?
The real value is that we are problem solvers. Everybody perceives us as the go-to pharmacy when they encounter a difficult situation. Being a compounding pharmacist is an awesome responsibility that is very rewarding and brings a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.
Can you describe your working relationship with local physicians and general medical community?
In this industry, it’s all about relationships and allowing other healthcare professional to lean on you when they have questions. After having a conversation with a patient about a particular problem, it’s not uncommon to reach out to a prescriber and work together. Nine times out of ten the prescriber will go with our recommendation.
MEDISCA is proud to work with and support its customers like Shawn McKallagat, R.Ph., owner of Letourneau's Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. To learn more about Letourneau's Compounding Pharmacy, Inc in Andover, MA please visit http://letourneaus.net.