Integrative Pharmacies Fill Need

Dec 27, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Most doctors don’t know a whole lot about herbs and natural remedies and even those who do can’t be of much help to patients who use these products without informing their MD.

Most modern drugstores, food/drug combo units, etc. offer a selection of herbs and natural over-the-counter remedies but few have people with the expertise to talk to consumers about what the products do or how they might interact with prescription medicines, other OTC products or even foods.

As a result, say some retailers, the growing market of consumers who are looking to eliminate or reduce their use of prescription medicines in favor natural therapies/remedies is being underserved.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, companies such as California-based Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy and Elephant Pharmacy as well Ritzman Natural Health Pharmacy out of Akron, Ohio, are more precisely focused on the needs of consumers such as these. Those who are seeking some combination of allopathic, homeopathic and naturopathic answers to address their personal health and wellness issues.

Pharmaca, which recently opened a store in Pacific Palisades, employs naturopathic doctors, registered nurses, nutritionists, clinical herbal therapists, homeopaths and aestheticians to consult with shoppers. Pharmacists participate in weekly meetings with alternative healthcare practitioners and receive in-house training on an on-going basis.

For those inclined to immediately conclude that ventures such as this are out of the mainstream of retailing, the LA Times reports Pharmaca also sells national brand disposable diapers, candy and other items found in just about every other drugstore in the nation.

Candy Tsourounis, director of the Pharmacy School Drug Information Center at UC San Francisco, believes so-called “integrative pharmacies” are the future of drugstores.

“These are the pharmacies that are going to be on the front lines,” she said. “We are going to see them draw both types of customers – those refilling prescription medicine, but also those who would like to find out more about St. John’s wort and kava kava – something that traditional pharmacies have not done very well.”

Moderator’s Comment – Are “integrative pharmacies”
the future of drugstores?

Okay, we were all ready to see this as one of those concepts
that will fly in California or Massachusetts but not have much application in
Middle America. But we have to admit having some trouble explaining Akron, Ohio.

Ritzman opened its first store in Ohio back in 1950, touting
“modern features” such as a soda fountain.

Today, as its Web site (
points out, Ritzman’s modern features include a combined prescription and natural
health pharmacy and services such as “massage therapy, compounded specialty
medication, diabetic supplies, home infusion, natural products, educational
seminars, organic foods and supplements.”
George Anderson – Moderator

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