Liberty Hill Pharmacy offers compounding – the ‘lost art’ of pharmacy

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By Rachel Madison

If it wasn’t for her mother, Whitney Brace might not have ever become a pharmacist. During her senior year of high school in Buda, her mother came home one day and told her that her friends needed some help at their pharmacy, so she had volunteered her for the job.

“I like to joke that I got volunteered into pharmacy,” said Brace, owner and compounding pharmacist at Liberty Hill Pharmacy & Compounding Center.

During college at the University of Texas, Brace thought she wanted to go to medical school, but because of her experiences working in “mom-and-pop” pharmacies, she decided she would rather go to pharmacy school.

“I like how pharmacy is focused on individual patients versus some aspects of healthcare where you get a four-minute appointment with your doctor,” she said.

One of the pharmacies she worked at while attending pharmacy school did compounding, which is where the pharmacy creates the drug in-house.

“I got very interested in that,” Brace said. “A doctor or patient would come to us and have tried various medications, but nothing quite worked like it needed to, so we got to use problem solving to figure out exactly what they needed. Compounding is what I absolutely love.”

Although she had spent time working at several independent pharmacies in the Central Texas area, Brace’s ultimate goal was to own and run her own pharmacy. In 2015, that goal was realized when she opened Liberty Hill Pharmacy.

“What led us to opening up here is that I’d always wanted to own a pharmacy and I was looking to buy one, but my mom suggested I just open one on my own,” Brace said. “I hadn’t thought of that, so I looked into what it would actually take, and decided it could work. There was no pharmacy in Liberty Hill at the time, but I knew there had been a successful one here for a long time that did well, and I knew the area was growing super quick. It was the perfect opportunity and I knew I had to jump on it.”

The previous pharmacy in Liberty Hill, M&L Pharmacy, had closed about three years before Brace opened Liberty Hill Pharmacy, but Brace was able to hire a couple of that pharmacy’s previous staff.

“That was a nice tie back into the community,” she said.

Brace currently has five full-time employees, as well as a couple of college students who help when they’re home during holidays. She also has a rotating pharmacist intern, who spends six weeks at the pharmacy to earn a compounding credit during their last year of pharmacy school.

Liberty Hill Pharmacy is a full-service pharmacy, and also offers a variety of over-the-counter items, including medications for cough, cold, pain and more.

“One of the things that sets us apart is we have several lines of pharmaceutical grade high quality vitamins and supplements,” Brace said. “These particular lines I feel confident in because they test every single batch of every single item. I can call the manufacturer and within an hour have a certificate of analysis showing that what they say is in the bottle is in fact in the bottle. They’re a little pricier than what you can get elsewhere, but this way you know you’re getting high quality supplements.”

Compounding services are also offered at Liberty Hill Pharmacy.

“That means we make the drug from scratch here in the building,” Brace said. “One or two hundred years ago, all pharmacy was compounding because there weren’t drug manufacturers. It’s kind of the lost art of pharmacy, but that’s where we can make the prescription just for you. We can make things lactose free, gluten free, sugar free and dye free. For people who can’t handle certain textures or flavors, we can compound their drugs to make them taste better.”

The pharmacy takes most major insurance, and for those without insurance, it offers an in-house discount cash program.

Transferring prescriptions to Liberty Hill Pharmacy is easy, Brace said, adding that all she needs is a patient’s information and the location of their previous pharmacy.

“We do all the leg work for our patients to make transferring prescriptions as painless as possible,” she said.

Looking to the future, Brace said she hopes to continue to grow her business. Currently, the pharmacy sees about 75 to 100 individual patients per day, and she expects that number to continue to grow.

“Getting a loan to open this business was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but we’re four and a half years into it and I’m absolutely enjoying it,” Brace said.

Continuing education is also important to Brace. She just started a fellowship with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), which will help her to learn about functional and alternative medicines, as well as treating the root cause of illness or disease instead of just treating the symptoms.

“I’m really excited about learning more about that and expanding on that side of the practice,” she said.

Liberty Hill Pharmacy, located at 13740 W. SH 29 #4, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call visit www.libertyhillpharmacy.com.

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