Commercial Progress Report

Customized Care

by Lisa Hanchey

More space and better work flow put this compounding pharmacy at the top of its game.

In March compounding pharmacy Professional Arts moved from its 8,000-square-foot building at 620 Guilbeau Road to a sprawling 12,000-square-foot space at 128 Curran Lane. "We were at a point where we had more employees than we had parking space," says President and CEO Eric Vidrine. "So, we just really needed more land and wanted the opportunity not only to build something we could grow into, but that was designed around the function of what we did."

Owned by Vidrine and David Mayer, Professional Arts Pharmacy opened in 1998 at 2600 Johnston St. in a 1,600-square-foot space inside the Hospice of Acadiana building. Within three years, the specialty compounding pharmacy outgrew its space and purchased the 4,000-square-foot building on Guilbeau in 2001. After expanding to 8,000 square feet, Professional Arts outgrew that space as well.

Photo by Robin May

Eric Vidrine and David Mayer of Professional Arts Pharmacy

Professional Arts Pharmacy is one of less than 1 percent of the country's pharmacies earning the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board's Seal of Accreditation. The pharmacy's primary specialty areas include topical pain, skin infection, upper respiratory infection, scars and hormone replacement. "We do things as diverse as making custom antibiotic eye drops for ophthalmologists, numbing gels for dentists and fertility medications," Vidrine explains. "If a child is allergic to a certain dye, we'll do a medication that is dye-free. If a pediatric patient needs a heart medication that's only available in tablets, we will create a liquid. So, for things that are not one-size-fits-all, if it is different from manufactured medication, we customize it. It's small scale medication for an individual patient that is prescribed by a physician."

In searching for a new site, the owners wanted something reasonably close to their Guilbeau location that was easy to find. They located land across from Wal-Mart on Ambassador Caffery Parkway. After shutting down the old location on March 1, Professional Arts' employees worked throughout the weekend to get the facility opened on March 4.

"It's been going great," Vidrine says. "The workflow has been perfect, better than we could have expected."

The new building was built from the ground up by The Lemoine Company and designed by Beazley Moliere architects. Greeting customers at the entrance is a huge backlit glass bubble wall. Inside is a traditional pharmacy lobby, an administrative and billing area and a compounding facility. "There is definitely a wow' factor," Vidrine says. "Customers are very impressed with the d├ęcor."

Justine Gerald of Interior Design Solutions LLC was the primary designer for the interior of the project. IDS selected new furniture for the conference room, glass tiles, light fixtures, paint colors and carpeting. "They did a phenomenal job in here," Vidrine says.

Up front is the new patient coordination department. "In our new patient coordination department, consultants talk with first-time customers to discuss their medications," Vidrine explains. "Depending on the prescribed therapy, some patients will be contacted by a nurse or pharmacist a few days after receiving their prescription to see how they are doing and if they are complying with their medications. Many other patients are reached out to a month later by a team member to follow up on their progress. And, that's really why physicians like to use us, because we're more than just providing the medicine. We're not just about production. We're really about patient care."

The pharmacy has more than 80 employees, including 11 pharmacists, registered technicians, marketing and sales staff, administrative personnel and a nurse. Professional Arts also offers fee-based consultations for hormone replacement.

With its unique niche and PCAB accreditation, Professional Arts Pharmacy has become one of the largest and most successful compounding pharmacies in the country. The company ships directly to individual patients in multiple states, but primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi. Its new facility will make serving these customers much easier. "We redesigned our whole work flow to make it smoother and get medicines to patients quicker, and just make a better environment for us to work as well," Vidrine says. "It's really to become more efficient and better serve our patients."