RX3 Com­pound­ing Phar­macy has seen siz­able growth

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - METRO BUSINESS - BY 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.”

C.F. “Sonny” Cur­rin Jr. and his son, Chris, are the own­ers of RX3, spe­cial­iz­ing in mak­ing pa­tient-spe­cific med­i­ca­tions. Sonny Cur­rin, a for­mer Ch­ester­field County su­per­vi­sor, had owned mul­ti­ple phar­ma­cies be­fore he and Chris started RX3.

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