UW Pharmacy Alumna Lori Allen Shares Career Insights about Compounding Pharmacy
March 18, 2014 — UW pharmacy alumna Lori Allen, R.Ph., (B.S.P. '91) shares career insights about her work in the unique specialty of compounding pharmacy for the benefit of current students and prospective students. Allen is the owner of Mixtures Pharmacy & Compounding Center, with two locations near Phoenix, Arizona. Mixtures' compounding specialties include, but are not limited to, anti-aging, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, dental preparations, dosage forms, flavoring, pain management, and veterinary care.
I started my career working with a large chain. I moved up from intern, to pharmacist, to pharmacy manager, and to a district supervisor. I then moved into pharmaceutical sales. A friend of mine, one of my current business partners, asked what I thought about compounding. I did more research and worked with my partners to develop a business plan. Mixtures opened the Phoenix (Ahwatukee) location January 2004 and the Gilbert location September 2013. I really feel the different opportunities have put me in a unique position to open Mixtures and have the business background as well as the sales background.
I would strongly suggest working for a large "big box" company. There are lots that can be learned from them, both good and bad. They have good policies and procedures in place that allow you to see how everything should be run so you don't have issues with your state board of pharmacy. They also teach you how to look at a profit/loss statement so you understand how to turn your inventory, minimize the losses, and be efficient. I think the biggest "advantage" of working for myself is ownership. Sure, I own the business, but I own the decisions of my work environment. With that I own the good decisions as well as the bad decisions. If I make a bad decision, it is my responsibility to fix that decision and improve what I do as a pharmacist and pharmacy.
Advice for prospective and current students
Find what speaks to you. I love that pharmacy has so many different aspects. You can be in a hospital, work in nuclear pharmacy, retail, infusion, vet, and the list continues. I happened to fall into hormones and thyroid. These are areas that make great sense to me and I think I have an ability to make a difference in people's lives. There are some that love the cardiovascular system, and if that is what speaks to you, then go for it! (You won't have any competition from me in that area). If you love what you do then you don't have a job anymore, you have a career. I get up every morning and am excited about making a difference for someone.
Special skills and training
When we decided to go forward and open Mixtures Pharmacy, it had been many years since school and I was a long way from my lab where we compounded. I went to PCCA in Houston, Texas, and took their week-long refresher class on compounding every possible dosage form. It was a great relief to see they had capsule machines that allowed you to make 100 or 300 capsules fairly rapidly. I was not looking forward to hand-packing hundreds of capsules at a time like we learned in pharmacy school. I also chose to work with hormones and thyroid because I saw a need in the area where I was planning on opening the pharmacy. I read every hormone and thyroid book on the market for about two years solid. I went to PCCA's classes on hormones and thyroid and anything dealing with endocrinology. I also met lots of wonderful people on the way who held my hand while I was figuring out all the intricate workings of the endocrine system.
I plan on continuing to grow Mixtures Pharmacy and serving my community. I will continue to educate medical professionals and be a resource for them about pharmacy and specifically hormones and thyroid and pain management as they request my services. I will also continue consulting with patients and working closely with their doctors to ensure they have the attention they deserve.
(photos courtesy of Lori Allen)