Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Retirement in the mix

King Pharmacy’s owner checking out, but new owner will continue services

February 15, 2007

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O. Newton King, a pioneer in reviving the art of compounding drugs by community pharmacists, is retiring and selling his King Pharmacy business, 1112 W. Sixth St., to Brad Grant.

O. Newton King, a pioneer in reviving the art of compounding drugs by community pharmacists, is retiring and selling his King Pharmacy business, 1112 W. Sixth St., to Brad Grant.

No more mixing ketoprofen-laced cream to concentrate relief on tennis elbows, packing time-released diphenhydramine capsules to ease sleepy side effects or flavoring the active ingredient in Pepto Bismol with Wyler's beef bouillon to make the medicine more palatable for dogs.

O. Newton King, a pioneer in reviving the art of compounding drugs by community pharmacists, is retiring.

"What I love about this job is that when I walk through that door the first thing in the morning, I have no idea what I'm going to do each day - and that's the challenge. That's why I come to work," said King, who opened King Pharmacy in 1976. "Now I guess I'll just have to treat my days the same way, and not plan."

King will step behind the long, curved counter at 1112 W. Sixth St. for the last time Feb. 23, when he'll conduct an open house to thank the dozens of area physicians, veterinarians and customers who have come to rely on him for specialty formulations, mixtures and dosages catered to the specific needs of each patient.

But the operation will endure.

Pharmacist retiring

Pharmacist Newtown King demonstrates how compounding of drugs works, and describes some of his most curious projects - including a concoction for a client with a rather distinctive tail. Enlarge video

King is selling his pharmacy to Brad Grant, who has been compounding drugs for six years in Topeka at a pharmacy that King and a partner opened in 1987 as the lone compound-only pharmacy in North America.

In buying the Lawrence location - and planning to pump up to $80,000 into upgrades - Grant will retain employees, install a new computer system and expand hours to increase the specialty pharmacy's reach without sacrificing its old-world charm and innovative approach to filling prescriptions.

"Newton's been a pioneer in compounding pharmacy," Grant said. "It's a real privilege to follow him. Newton felt comfortable with me carrying on with the name and the business, and I consider that a privilege."

Nan Rolfs, a pharmacy tech at King Pharmacy for 10 years, is looking forward to the new era while remaining thankful for getting a chance to have a hand in producing custom formulations.

"You're not just counting out pills," Rolfs said. "It's always different, and you learn something new all the time."

King, who received his pharmacy degree in 1963 from Kansas University, went into business for himself in 1976, buying a pharmacy at 944 Ky. He shifted operations to the Lawrence Medical Plaza in 1980, and before long found himself filling a "niche" in the market for compounds.

Local pharmacist hanging up his white jacket

An independent pharmacist whose mixtures help people and pets alike is hanging up his white jacket. Enlarge video

In 1984 he joined the Professional Compounding Centers of America, a national organization that named him its pharmacist of the year in 1988.

For the past 10 years or so, King has worked almost solely in compounded products. Physicians turn to him to help patients with special needs, and veterinarians rely on him to take active ingredients from human drugs and make them appetizing for animals.

About 20 percent of his sales these days are for dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals - hence the beef-flavored Pepto, a.k.a. bismuth subsalicylate.

"Dogs don't like peppermint," King said. "They like this."

King, 66, doesn't intend to slow down much in retirement, at least not right away. He's looking to organize a cattle drive in western Kansas, and plans to spend plenty of time with his wife of 44 years, Mary Ann, and their five grandsons.

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