Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

A vacant lot at the top of Main Street is now bustling with an innovative business, the first of its kind in Franklin. Tipton Compounding Pharmacy just opened its doors in Franklin and is owned and operated by Jamie Tipton who said she wanted to bring her business to Franklin to continue a longstanding family tradition.

“I have a rich heritage in Franklin…my roots go deep,” said Tipton. “I grew up here, my grandparents grew up here, my great-grandparents were from here, and so on.  My great  grandfather, Tom Rickman, owned the Rickman General Store and my grandfather, Roy Rickman, owned Auto Parts & Equipment Company. I have always thought that I would follow in their footsteps and open a pharmacy in Franklin, but I wasn’t sure of the timeline. As I learned more about the special niche that compounding provided, I realized it was something I wanted to pursue. With that being said, there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to stay in Franklin and work at a compounding-only pharmacy. I had to either move away in order to work for a compounding pharmacy or build my own. Because Franklin is home to me, I wanted to give back to a community that has given so much to me. So, building this building and starting my own business here was what I decided to do.”

With this type of business, Tipton said the question she is asked the most is “what is compounding?” Truly a new concept for the region, Tipton is leading the charge to bring innovative concepts to medicine in Macon County.

“When I was in pharmacy school, the area of compounding sparked my interest the most,” said Tipton. “I decided early on to concentrate my time in learning about and making compounds. For those who have used compounds, they have experienced the benefits and know all about it. For those who haven’t, they don’t quite understand it.  Compounding is basically hand-making a medication for the individual patient. It is tailored to you.”

Many years ago, compounding was the way people received medication. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, however, compounding declined because companies started producing drugs en masse. Although that is how most people see pharmacies now, the “one-size-fits-all” model does not meet every patient’s needs.

“There are patients that may need a dose of a medication that is higher or lower than what is commercially made,” said Tipton. “That is where compounding can help. Some medication contains ingredients that patients are allergic to. We can compound medicine that eliminates that chemical. There are animals and children that don’t want to take commercial medicine because of the taste or the inability to swallow a traditional tablet. We can use various flavors to try and make it more palatable. We also can use unique dosage forms to make it more appealing, such as animal treats, gummies and even lollipops. Another benefit of compounding is the ability to reduce side effects by using another dosage form. For example, many pain pills have bad GI side effects (nausea, vomiting, constipation, etc.) and can cause drowsiness. We can formulate different pain ingredients into a cream that can be rubbed onto the affected area to not only target the therapy locally, but help decrease some of the side effects.”

Tipton’s clientele are individuals who have special needs or wants when it comes to medications. “Our customers are individual patients…just like in a regular retail pharmacy,” said Tipton. “In order to obtain medication that is compounded, a doctor must write a prescription for it.  Therefore, we only make the compounds when we receive an order from a doctor.  There are patients who are keenly aware of issues concerning their own health and inquire if their medications can be compounded. If they can be, the doctor will write for a compounded prescription if they so choose. Other pharmacies can also be tremendous partners. For example, if a pharmacy receives a compounded prescription from a doctor and does not have the equipment or ability to make the compound, they can refer the patient to us and we will be more than happy to help.”

Tipton was raised in Franklin and went through school here, played sports here, and attended Western Carolina University for her undergraduate classes.  Tipton then attended Creighton University for pharmacy school.

“It was a distance program which allowed me to stay home and network, while also getting my Doctor of Pharmacy degree,” said Tipton. “I would then go to Omaha, Neb., in the summer to complete labs and other hands-on activities. While attending Creighton, I begged my parents to let me have a dog to keep me company while I completed my class work. They finally agreed, and I got a Yorkie who I named “Kray” after Creighton University. As any animal lover will tell you, she quickly became my constant companion and friend. She stayed in my office with me every day and watched every class with me. We joke that she should have received an honorary doctorate. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and taking pictures of the beauty that surrounds us in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I was born and raised in Cowee Baptist Church where I still attend. I have been blessed with a supportive and loving family throughout my life. Throughout my educational years, I have had some of the best teachers and coaches that have taught me to love learning and pushed me to be the best I could be. I am thankful for everyone that has touched my life and helped make me the person I am today.”

Wanting to meet the needs of the area, in addition  to compounds, Tipton Compounding Pharmacy also offers affordable, 100% pure essential oils.

“I encourage people to come by and take a look at the selection we have,” she said. “Also, we provide pharmaceutical grade supplements.  The pharmaceutical grade aspect is critical because many supplements are sold without even containing the active ingredient inside. By purchasing pharmaceutical grade supplements, you can be assured you are getting what you buy because every supplement is tested before it is sent to our pharmacy.”

Starting a new business can be terrifying, and starting a business not many are familiar with is even harder. But Tipton said the community support and encouragement has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I would just like to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my journey to open Tipton Compounding Pharmacy here in Franklin,” she said. “The response has been overwhelming and I would just like to say ‘thank you’ for the encouragement that I have received. When I decided to pursue opening a compounding pharmacy, many people in the field advised me to go to a big city instead of a small town. I struggled with that advice because I knew I wanted to stay home. The tagline of our pharmacy is ’Back to the Roots of Medicine’ because compounding was the origin of pharmacy. I decided to follow the footsteps of my grandfather and great grandfather and open the pharmacy here in Franklin where my own roots lie. So I am here, in the town I love, and look forward to helping the people of Western North Carolina and the surrounding area.”

The new pharmacy was built by Beale Construction and is located on Main Street just as you start to head up town hill. For more information, call Tipton Compounding Pharmacy at (828) 524-8900.