Grand Junction Walgreens is a top seller of popular hormone replacement Rx

Prescriptions filled at a Grand Junction Walgreens may be used by movie stars seeing youth in California.

Officials at Grand Junction’s newest Walgreens, 240 West Park Drive, near the corner of First Street and Patterson, say the store is the largest supplier of compounded bio-identical hormone replacement tablets among the nation’s more than 7,000 Walgreens.

While many of the sublingual tablets are sold locally, the store receives orders for the product that must be shipped across the country, many to California.

“We get a lot of phone calls, people asking, ‘What do you do? How can we duplicate it?’ ” said Stacie Jay, Walgreens compounding pharmacy manager.

Interest in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy soared recently, especially after some celebrities have raved openly about the drugs’ anti-aging effects. One of the most vocal proponents for the therapy is actress Suzanne Somers, whose books on the subject have topped best-seller lists. Many of those books line shelves near the Grand Junction Walgreens’ pharmacy and sell quickly, Jay said.

The product produced at the Grand Junction Walgreens is popular because the sublingual tablets easily dissolve under the tongue, unlike other oral applications, which can be unpleasant to take, Jay said.

The Grand Junction Walgreens is able to compound drugs using a special pill-pressing machine, and it has a sterile room to house it. Products and measurements are monitored by the state and pharmacists are trained to combine products, Jay said.

Pharmacists there fill about 100 bio-identical hormone prescriptions a day. Because compounded drugs are produced on an as-needed basis, a prescription takes two days to fill.

One definition of bio-identical means the hormones in the product are chemically identical to the particular ones found in a particular person. Traditional hormone replacement therapy involves estrogen or estrogen-progestin products made by pharmaceutical companies with the products approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration.

The FDA says estrogen and estrogen-progestin drugs also are identical to hormones found in the body.

Compounded drugs are two or more FDA-approved drugs that are combined into a single medication according to a physician’s prescription and tailored to a patient’s specific needs.

The FDA considers compounding to be an important part of patient care.

However, it warns patients to make sure the pharmacies and pharmacists they use are trained and licensed to distribute compounded drugs. Those that aren’t can put patients at severe risk, including death.

Women going through menopause have lower levels of hormones and can experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness and reduced bone density.

Older men may have decrease in testosterone and can be treated for what is sometimes called andropause.

The FDA has not approved any products for the treatment of andropause for men and there also are no FDA-approved testosterone drugs for women.

A physician’s prescription is required for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.

Unlike some private pharmacies, the Grand Junction Walgreens is able to bill health insurance companies for compounded prescription drugs.

The ability to compound drugs can be used for a number of other kinds of prescriptions beyond bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, and the pharmacy could take on a lot more business, Jay said.

“We could do a lot more than we’re doing if we had a doctor who was willing to experiment,” she said.

“The capabilities are endless.”


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