Lynn Pham: Owner of new compounding pharmacy in Menlo Park

by Linda Hubbard on June 6, 2011

Most chemists like to mix things up. Lynn Pham is no exception. During her undergraduate years, she loved chemistry so much that she finished college in two and a half years.

After graduation, she landed in a lab, but soon discovered she’s too much a people person to work in such an isolated setting. So she decided to get a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UCSF. Now the chemist/pharmacist has opened what will be — at least initially — a compounding-only pharmacy in Menlo Park.

Nuleaf officially opened its door on June 1 but has been two years in the making. Lynn wanted to find the right location and Menlo Park fit, both for its demographics and a space on El Camino that met her square foot requirements. Having been vacant for over a year, it also fit her budget, partially because it has no adjacent parking lot.

“A compounding pharmacy doesn’t need a lot of parking spaces,” Lynn said. “Unlike the business model of regular retail pharmacies, we don’t deal with big volumes of prescriptions.”

Lynn explained that a compounding pharmacy is able to provide customized medications that best fit patients’ needs — be they human or animal — based on a doctor’s or veterinarian’s prescription. “Usually it’s an alternative to manufactured medications,” she said.

Such alternatives are needed for a variety of reason. As example, a person isn’t able to swallow a manufactured pill or is allergic to some part of the inactive ingredients. “We see a lot of activity in areas of women’s health, particularly hormone replacement therapy, as well as chronic pain management.”

While the FDA does not oversee compounding pharmacies — instead monitoring drug manufacturing companies — there are a number of professional associations that provide standards, including the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board, American Health Systems Pharmacists, and the United States Pharmacopeia.

Lynn realizes that there are hurdles in launching a business, particularly one that offers services unfamiliar to both consumers and health care professionals. “We realize we need to spread the word to inform local doctors that there’s a different tool available to them that they can use in treating their patients,” she said. “But it can be done — I know it!”

Photo by Scott R. Kline

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