Because every single medical patient is different and has different needs, say Craig and Raenel Mathews, customized medications are a vital part of quality medical care yet locally, individually-produced prescriptions have only been available to those who haven't minded making regular trips to the Valley to obtain them.
The Mathews are the pharmacists/managers of The Apothecary Shop a full-service pharmacy and custom-medicine outlet that recently opened on the northwest corner of Sawmill Crossing Plaza.
The Payson version is one of eight identically-named stores owned across the state by The Apothecary Shops of Arizona, a mini-chain of independent pharmacies founded in Scottsdale in 1996.
The concept behind the company, Craig said, is to use the cutting edge of medical technology to meet the unique and individual needs of men, women, children ... and animals.
Although The Apothecary Shop offers everything a prescription-holder could obtain at a regular pharmacy, its specialty is "compounding" meaning that the Mathews possess the knowledge, equipment and pure-ingredient chemicals to make custom-tailored medications according to any physician's prescription and any patient's needs.
Once upon a time for about 400 years, compounding was the pharmacist's norm before pill, capsule and liquid forms of medication became so easy to mass-produce. Since the mid-1990s, however, the science has boomed back in a big way. The Mathews both of whom hold Doctorate of Pharmacy degrees are now two of more than 2,400 independent community pharmacists nationwide who practice pharmacy compounding.
But compounding is hardly all the Mathews do for their special-needs customers. Once a prescription is formulated to perfection, it is dispensed into a special dosage form and/or the delivery system best suited for the patient.
"For example," Craig said, "we can put a customer's medication in a gel, a lozenge, powder, or whatever form that's best and easiest for them to swallow."
For children (or adults) who resist the "yucky taste" of their medicine, they can even create a tasty lollipop, with a choice of flavors that rival Baskin-Robbins' 32 taste tempters: there's apple-caramel, banana creme, Hawaiian pineapple, lemon custard, strawberry creamsicle, watermelon, and about two dozen more.
Some of the medications the Mathews can concoct for animals are anti-fungal suspensions; eye drops; insulin for felines; arthritis medications; chemotherapeutic drugs, capsules and injections; discontinued thyroid preparations; anti-diarrheal medications; and anti-seizure liquids.
Since animals can be as finicky as children when it comes to what they'll swallow, Raenel pointed out, most of their orally-ingested can also be made to be irresistible thanks to more than 100 different pet-adored flavors which include fish, beef, chicken, liver, cheese and tuna, apple suspensions for horses, and lettuce suspensions for rabbits.
The Apothecary Shop is in Sawmill Crossing, 201 W. Main Street in Payson. Prescription delivery service is available. For more information, call Craig or Raenel Mathews at 468-8299.