Meet the compounders

Steve Edgar

Photo By Tom Angel

Apothecary Options is a pharmacy. Owner Steve Edgar is a pharmacist. So is his business partner Matt Schuler. The thing that separates this tiny storefront at the north end of The Esplanade from a standard pharmacy is the fact that the pharmacists are also compounders. Inside a small, brightly lit lab, with futuristic-looking gadgets like the ointment mill, electronic mortar and pestle and powder ventilation hoods, the two pharmacists combine raw meds into the kind of specialized mixtures that people (and pets) can’t get from your local Walgreens. Edgar says that a big chunk of his business comes via the Internet ( and now, after nearly three years in business, local doctors and pharmacies are beginning to send them business as well.

What’s the difference between this and a regular pharmacy?

If you had a prescription for blood pressure medication or something you would just go to a regular pharmacy. What we do with that is, if you can’t take it orally and you need it made up in a cream or something.

Do you still need a prescription here?

Everything that we do has to have a prescription. We can’t just make stuff up and sell it at the Farmers’ Market or something. All the powders we use are all FDA-approved. We don’t do any weird homeopathic herb stuff. It’s all stuff that’s commercially available; it’s just that instead of putting in a tablet form, we buy it in a powder form.

No ground-up bones or monkey heads?

No, none of that stuff.

Do you go through the same training as a traditional pharmacist?

Both Matt and I are pharmacists, [and] we’ve had training in compounding—that’s kind of a lost art. When you’re working in [a place like] Wal-mart or Longs, you may fill 300 prescriptions a day, but maybe one-a-week [or] two-a-week are going to be for a compounded product. Now those people just send the business our way.

What are the big sellers?

The bio-identical hormone replacement is big. Bio-identical means that the hormones that we prepare are identical to what a woman produces naturally. So, it’s not like using horse estrogen or anything weird like that. It’s 100 percent what her body produces, now we’re just supplementing it. This is nice, balanced, low-dose hormone replacement, and these women are feeling great.