Published on July 10th, 2013
By Alicia Doyle
At the helm of the first compounding pharmacy in Los Angeles expecting to be fully accredited by the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, Navid Vahedi takes pride in the fact that patient safety is number one.
Fusion Rx is a compounding only pharmacy, said Vahedi, BSc, PharmD.
This means our pharmacy works directly with prescribers and their patients to develop, or compound a customized prescription medication tailored to the needs of the individual, he said.
In other words, this is not a one size fits all pharmacy. Being fully accredited means a pharmacy meets rigorous standards that guarantee the training and expertise of its compounding pharmacists and specialists, the quality of ingredients, the safety of the facility and the efficacy of compounded medications.
My ultimate goal is to be the premier compounding pharmacy in Los Angeles County, Dr. Vahedi said.
What he enjoys most about his profession is that he loves what he does for a living.
I can honestly say I wake up every day and enjoy heading over to work, he said.
I know all of my patients by name and I get to spend time with them. I enjoy creating unique medications to help patients who are otherwise left without other options.
Dr. Vahedi earned his BSc in neuroscience from the University of California Los Angeles, where he graduated in 2002.
After some exploratory work in the field, he entered the formal study of pharmacy at the University of Southern Nevada where he received his PharmD degree in 2006. He then worked as a manager for Longs Drugs between 2006 and 2009.
As a result of this experience, I learned to identify some of the shortcomings in standard pharmaceutical practice, said Dr. Vahedi, who is an active member of the Professional Compounding Centers of America, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
He pointed to one of his first cases as a compounding pharmacist to illustrate the difference between a compounding pharmacist and a usual pharmacist. The case involved the physician of a young married woman who called Dr. Vahedi for a consult concerning a recurrent problem of aphthous ulcers, commonly known as canker sores.
Knowing women are slightly more apt to develop this problem on a recurrent basis, and aware that a problem of this nature could be a very serious one for a young married couple, Dr. Vahedi developed a specialty medication using appropriate components to give the patient relief from this condition within three days.
Both the patient and her physician were grateful and relieved with my solution of the problem which is now completely controlled, Dr. Vahedi said.
Prescription compounding may be an ideal solution for people who:
- Are allergic to dyes or preservatives.
- Have difficulty swallowing pills.
- Need a dosage or medication not commonly available.
With compounding, your doctor or provider can tailor dosage levels, modify strengths and change how a medication is delivered as they monitor your results, Dr. Vahedi explained.
Drug manufacturers typically market only limited strengths of their products, he said.
Small changes in dosage and forms can have significant effects. Almost any type of medication can be compounded into a product to meet specific needs, including:
- Topical formulations.
- Preservative-free medications.
- Sublingual dosage forms.
- Children’s dosages of adult prescriptions.
Compounded prescriptions can also be created in forms that make medications easier to take, with drug delivery methods including tablets, liquids, creams and even medicated lollipops.
Drug shortages are becoming increasingly common, Dr. Vahedi further emphasized.
This is a critical issue which means that doctors and their patients are often unable to get the medications they need.
Drug Shortage Problem
According to the Professional Compounding Centers of America, of which Fusion Rx is a member,
The growing drug shortage problem is impacting a range of patient conditions and issues from oral antibiotics that allow pediatric and elderly patients unable to swallow pills to take their medicine, to treatments for leukemia and chemotherapy, to name just a few. Recently, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists named more than 200 medicines on its drug shortage list. During a recent FDA-sponsored forum on drug shortages, a representative from the Drug Information Resource Center reported tracking 210 new shortages during the first nine months of 2011, with more than 260 cumulative shortages, new and ongoing.
Compounding pharmacists play an important role in providing access to discontinued medications and drugs in short supply by compounding the specific drug—based on a physician’s prescription, using pharmaceutical base ingredients to help ensure patients get the critical care they require.
Member pharmacists of the Professional Compounding Centers of America have access to the highest quality pharmaceutical ingredients and can fulfill a prescription using the latest research, quality control processes and testing technologies to create compounded medications that meet the patients’ individual needs.
As far as the future is concerned, Dr. Vahedi wants the public and doctors to be more aware of how compounding can help their patients—whether it’s for kids, their pets or cancer patients.
I hope to raise awareness of what compounding pharmacies actually do and the level of complexities that go into formulating compounded medications, he said.
Compounding medication is not about putting medicine into a pill, but rather using complex formulas, procedures and techniques that are widely misunderstood, Dr. Vahedi further emphasized.
I hope to reach out to the community and bring awareness to compounding medications and the benefits of having your medication compounded specifically for your own needs. Fusion Rx hosts free, monthly public health and wellness clinics by area health providers and doctors. Upcoming dates are: June 19, July 17 and August 21. For more information, visit www.fusionrx.net or call 310.204.6676.