RX3 Compounding Pharmacy has seen sizable growth
Richmond Times-Dispatch30 Oct 2017BY JOAN TUPPONCE SHELBY LUM/TIMES-DISPATCH
C.F. “Sonny” Currin Jr. had been in the pharmacy business for decades when he saw a growing need for more medication customization.
He decided to make a change in 1995 around the time his son, Chris, graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy.The father-son team created RX3 Compounding Pharmacy specializing in making patient-specific medications.
The business operated in various locations until 2008, when RX3 opened a pharmacy off Ironbridge Road in Chesterfield County. It opened a second location last year on West Broad Street in the Short Pump area of Henrico County.
“When there aren’t any commercial medications suitable or available for a patient, we customize medications with their doctor to maximize their therapeutic outcomes,” Chris Currin said.
Some people need different strengths or flavors of a medication, while others may need dye-free or allergen-free medications, for example.
“The keyword here is customization,” he said.
At one time, nearly all prescriptions were compounded. But compounding declined with the introduction of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s and 1960s, and most pharmacists were no longer trained on how to compound medications.
“Pharmacists had gotten away from compounding,” said the elder Currin, who graduated from VCU’s School of Pharmacy in 1959.
The father, a former Chesterfield supervisor, had owned and operated multiple pharmacies before he and his son started RX3.
Today, the compounding industry represents an estimated 1 percent to 3 percent of the total U.S. prescription drug market, according to the Texasbased International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists.
To help meet the growing demand for trained compounding pharmacists, VCU’s School of Pharmacy last year opened its Center for Compounding Practice and Research, one of only a handful of its kind in the country.
The art of compounding medications has become more specialized.
“You have to have special equipment, special gowns and increased training for your staff,” said Chris Currin, adding that having pharmacists Holly Lake and Talonna Iser is critical to RX3’s success. “We need good pharmacists to help us operate the business.”
RX3 deals with patients and organizations across Virginia, including ambulatory surgery centers, hospitals, doctors and veterinarians.
“Animals need customizable medications like people do,” the son said.
Over the past five years, RX3 has experienced 61 percent growth in compounded prescriptions.
“We have had approximately 12 percent growth in compounded prescriptions per year,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Iuorno, a cornea subspecialist with Commonwealth Eye Care Associates, uses RX3 because the pharmacy does ophthalmic compounding, creating medications such as eye drops for conditions like severe dry eye.
“In a lot of cases, I need these medications fast. They need to be made up in an hour or two,” Iuorno said. “They will make them up, and they have delivered the prescription to the patient because the patient can’t see to drive. They have a world-class compounding pharmacy.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. Neil Zemmel of Richmond Aesthetics Surgery uses RX3 for scar creams as well as other prescriptions. He and Chris Currin have created a custom blend of scar creams that Zemmel prescribes to patients.
“They have the highest level of certification that one can have if you are a compounding pharmacy,” Zemmel said. “I feel very comfortable with my patients using Chris’ prescriptions because I know they are the highest quality.”
The company was the first compounding pharmacy in the state to have national compounding accreditation from the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board in 2007.
Its Short Pump location also is a state-of-the-art facility, which practices the highest level of commitment to industry standards for handling hazardous drugs, Chris Currin said. “We try to look ahead of the curve. The Short Pump facility exceeds standards that haven’t been implemented yet.”
RX3 opened its second pharmacy in western Henrico last year because company officials saw a need.
“We had patients that lived in that corridor,” Chris Currin said. “It was a closer location for them, and it increased our footprint to help patients.”