Pharmacist promotes complementary medicine

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Matt Gardner
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A prominent local pharmacist and consultant discussed issues related to health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry on Thursday evening at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.

Pharmacist and consultant Roses Stewart, owner of the Victoria Square Compounding Pharmacy, speaks about health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Thursday evening.

Roses Stewart is the owner of the Victoria Square Compounding Pharmacy and sits on the board of the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists. Compounding pharmacists produce drugs tailored for patients’ specific needs — part of a balanced approach to health that Stewart referred to as complementary medicine.

“We do not manufacture, and it’s a huge distinction between manufacturing and compounding,” she said.

“In manufacturing, there is a specific licence that is given to a business as a manufacturer, where a business then produces medications that are approved by  (Health Canada’s Therapeutic Products Directorate) … As a compounding pharmacist, we make medications that are prescribed for a certain patient, for a certain person. So the physician comes to us, asks us to make something or provide a medication for a certain patient, and so we use our skills and the scientific equipment that we have to produce a medication for that one certain person.”

One of the key themes Stewart returned to was the growing problem of drug shortages in the pharmaceutical industry. Many companies have shut down because of problems with their facilities, and as a result many injectable drugs have become more difficult to obtain.

As a compounding pharmacist, Stewart is in a unique position to address such shortages. Her Victoria Square Compounding Pharmacy has a state-of-the-art facility that allows staff to produce many of the injectables that pharmaceutical manufacturers are increasingly failing to provide.

“There is one other component to this: Where readily available or longtime utilized antibiotics are not available,” Stewart said. “The thinking has been that because (for) some of these antibiotics, there’s not a large financial remuneration for these companies, they’ve just stopped making them.

“Things that have been around for years like penicillin, tetracycline, Bactrim, Septra, these medications are not available. So it has made a big difference in the prescribing habits of physicians. But as we have the facility here in Prince Albert to supply these medications, it’s really made a big difference for the health and well-being of the people of Prince Albert and district.”

As a compounding pharmacist, we make medications that are prescribed for a certain patient, for a certain person. Roses Stewart

Another important topic at the discussion was how many medications actually deplete necessary nutrients in our bodies. Birth control pills, for example, are detrimental in that they drain the B vitamins in women’s bodies. Many young women who are prescribed birth control pills develop depression after several years due to the lack of vitamin B.

Stewart also pointed to statin drugs, which are commonly used to reduce cholesterol. The human body needs some cholesterol for proper mental functioning, and statin drugs tend to reduce the proper functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Part of complementary medicine is looking at the big picture. If a patient’s medication to reduce high blood pressure is depleting essential vitamins, a pharmacist might suggest lowering the medication intake and increasing doses of magnesium, which also helps decrease blood pressure.

But medication is only one aspect of a healthy lifestyle, which is why Stewart tries to stay up-to-date with new information across the medical spectrum.

“I spend my time every day … speaking to people about their health,” Stewart said.

“They bring me all of their vitamins, show me everything that they’re taking. We talk about their diet, their exercise, their stress reduction. We talk about their hormone levels, and by spending about an hour and a half with people and going through all of these issues, we’re able to make some serious changes in their lives.”

When it comes to preventative tips for staying strong and healthy as we age, Stewart identified five positive steps that included a humorous bit of self-promotion: “Diet, exercise, stress reduction, balancing hormones, talking to me,” she joked.

Organizations: International Academy, Health Canada

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