Apotheca Integrative Pharmacy

APOTHECA INTEGRATIVE Pharmacy (AIP), a specialty pharmacy in Makati City, expanded its compounding medicine portfolio to include categories such as hormone replacement therapy, weight loss management, intravenous nutrition, thyroid medications, and dermatological preparations.   

Compounding refers to the preparation of personalized medications for patients. “We acknowledge the fact that, nowadays, one-size-fits-all isn’t the only available [approach] in pharmaceutical care,” said pharmacist Marjorie V. Manrique, AIP director and laboratory head, in a Feb. 9 event. 

While all compounded medicines are doctor-prescribed, none are approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since this regulatory process is reserved for manufactured drugs from traditional pharmaceutical companies.  

The AIP facility itself, however, has been licensed since 2014 by the FDA to compound drugs. 

In the United States, compounding pharmacies are controversial. Poor compounding practices, per the US FDA, can result in serious drug quality problems such as contamination.  

Compounding does away with inactive ingredients that an individual might be allergic to (such as dyes, preservatives, and lactose). The process also allows pharmacists to adjust dosage strengths, and make a medicine more digestible through the addition of a flavor, or the transformation of its form, say, from a lozenge to a liquid solution.  

“When a prescription comes in, an order management pharmacist first validates it before forwarding the prescription to a compounding pharmacist,” she said. “Any red flag will have to be directly clarified with the patient’s doctor. Only when it’s validated does the compounding pharmacist facilitate [the compounding process].”  

Customized medicines, which are not necessarily more expensive than their mass-produced equivalents, expand treatment options available to patients, said Benjamin G. Topacio, AIP sales and marketing manager. 

“If a request for a medication comes in and we have it in our data bank, we just ask for a prescription from them,” he said. “If the formulation is not available in our data bank, we study the market for its indication… procure the API [Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient] for it, inform doctors, and then the same validation process goes through.”  

The specialty pharmacy is affiliated with healthcare practitioners from different organizations, including St. Luke’s Medical Center, The Medical City, Perpetual Help Medical Center, Belo Medical Group, The Aivee Group, and Go2Health.   

“Each person is biochemically unique,” said Dr. Imelda S. Edodollon, an integrative medicine doctor who refers her patients to AIP for compounded drugs. “We all have our own medical needs… Thus, each of us needs to be assessed as the individual we are.”  

AIP launched its website and e-commerce platform this year to make its products and services more accessible. — Patricia B. Mirasol