Memphis Small Business Spotlight
SPECIAL EMPHASIS: Health Care
By Aisling Maki
After his father was diagnosed with diabetes, Brett Wright – wanting to better understand treatment for the disease and a way to help patients like his father – decided to enroll at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Pharmacy in Memphis.
Antonio Anderson mixes compounds at Benevere Specialty Pharmacy Diabetic Supply, 1162 W Poplar Ave. in Collierville, where the business serves the surrounding area.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
After graduating, Wright pursued further education and training in compounding pharmacy from the Professional Compounding Centers of America, where he earned additional certifications.
Compounding is the customized preparation of medicine uniquely to the needs of individual patients. Physicians, veterinarians or other prescribing practitioners can tailor patients’ prescriptions, which are then compounded by a state-licensed pharmacist.
In addition, Wright spent about eight years working for a large specialty pharmacy company that provided high-end injectables to patients all over the country.
In May, Wright founded his own compounding and specialty pharmacy to serve residents of Collierville and its surrounding communities.
Benevere Specialty Pharmacy Diabetic Supply, 1162 W. Poplar Ave. in Collierville, specializes in custom and compounded medications that can be made to accommodate the needs of each customer.
Pharmacy staff can formulate and prepare specific medications for a variety of health care services. Compounding preparations are especially prevalent for patients with unique health care needs.
Medicines can be made without preservatives, dyes or gluten, for patients with sensitivities to those ingredients, or can be made candy or fruit-flavored for children.
Benevere staff can create drugs in lower doses for pediatric patients or compound capsules into liquid form or a trans-dermal gel for individuals with swallowing issues.
“If you have a 4-year-old who has a seizure disorder and has a hard time swallowing, we can make that into a palatable form so they’d be able to swallow that,” Wright said.
Benevere carries specialty medications that are not often stocked at other pharmacies, including those for health issues such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and hemophilia.
The pharmacy’s compounding services can be applied to medications for women’s health – including hormone therapies and post-partum care – men’s health, pediatric health, veterinary, dental, migraines, pain management and sports medicine.
“If there’s a drug that patients can’t get, they should reach out to a compounding pharmacy. … We’ve got a nice business model that allows us to address those issues,” Wright said.
The pharmacy can also re-create drugs that have been helpful to certain patients but were discontinued by pharmaceutical manufacturers due to low profitability.
Compound pharmacists can fill a vital role when drug shortages arise, when a drug manufacturing facility is shut down for issues of cleanliness and laboratory sterility or when a manufacturer is unable to produce drugs on a large scale.
Wright said from time to time, shortage of injectables, such as oncology drugs, do arise, although shortages arise for oral capsules and tablets too, especially if there’s a recall.
“We specialize in compounding and making drugs that are not commercially available due to shortages from a manufacturer that has stopped making them or they were shot down for cleanliness or some other reason,” Wright said. “As long as those ingredients are available to us, we can buy them and then compound them in a small amount to fill those gaps locally.”
Wright said compound pharmacies are quite rare.
“I’m the only one in the Collierville area, and in the Memphis metro area there are probably three or four,” he said. “We can’t say we’re competing with Walgreens or anybody because what we do is different. … The bigger boys are great at what they do, but we’re trying to fill in the gap with that specialty compounding segment.”
Benevere also provides medication therapy management services for each patient’s medication regimen, as well as alternative prescription options.
“We have a dedicated staff doing the patient counseling and a patient counseling area that might be a little different from some of the other pharmacies around,” Wright said. “I come from a model that’s a high-level, higher-touch field. You spent a lot more time with the patients, especially with compounding. They’re getting something that’s not commercially available and we try to explain how to use it.”
Although Benevere’s focus is on compounding, it’s a full-scale retail pharmacy that also offers toiletries and other items, traditional prescriptions and diabetic supplies, as well as complimentary delivery in the 38017 ZIP code.
Benevere currently has five additional employees, including a full-time technician, two part-time compound pharmacists and two sales representatives who visit with local doctors to let them know there’s a compound pharmacy available to their patients.
About 70 percent of Wright’s customers come from the Memphis area, and about 30 percent reside in other parts of the Mid-South.
“There’s a niche market that’s allowed me to get in and start a business, and things are going extremely well,” Wright said. “And we’ve been very excited to be in the marketplace.”