We’re back! And we missed you! I don’t know about you all, but with everything that’s happened over the last year, Candice and I found ourselves turning inward toward our families to cocoon a bit. Now that the temperatures are warming (a little) and the bulbs are breaching the earth (slowly, but surely), we are ready to look ahead and pick up where we left off – learning how to make the most of life with alpha-gal syndrome and sharing this knowledge with you.
Today, we’re bringing you an interview with our neighborhood pharmacist who patiently answered some pressing questions about pharmacy safety for those of us with alpha-gal syndrome. Matt Rease is a pharmacist at Christiansburg Pharmacy, a local pharmacy offering compounding services as well as a variety of alpha-gal friendly alternative products that we haven’t been able to find in many of the nationwide pharmacies.
2AG: We’re trying to gauge alpha-gal awareness, particularly in the medical field. How familiar are you with alpha-gal syndrome?
Matt: A few of our patients have Alpha-Gal Syndrome, which led us to do our own research regarding the topic.
2AG: If I am a regular patient of your pharmacy, are you able to mark on my file in any way that I have alpha-gal syndrome?
Matt: We do have a location on each patient’s profile where we can place specific notes. We can also use customized alerts that pop-up during the prescription verification process. If a patient has alpha-gal syndrome noted in their profile, the pharmacist will review each medication to help minimize exposure to any mammal byproducts.
2AG: Are you aware of the mammal byproducts and derivatives used in pharmaceuticals?
Matt: We are aware that we need to avoid gelatin, pregelatinized starch, magnesium stearate, stearic acid, lactose, silica gel, cellulose, and certain vaccines.
2AG: Capsules often contain magnesium stearate, stearic acid, or gelatin, which can all be mammal-derived. What are our options?
Matt: As an independent compounding pharmacy, we have the option to ask the provider to allow us to compound certain medications in order to avoid mammal byproducts. We are able to compound capsules using vegetable derived shells or liquid/suspension-based medications. We can compound with no additives and use food-based products as filler (e.g. rice flour) when needed.
2AG: If my doctor sends you a prescription, how can I be sure it doesn’t include mammal-derived ingredients?
Matt: You can always ask one of our pharmacists about any medication or OTC items. We are happy to research product ingredients for you anytime.
2AG: As a pharmacist, how do you check to make sure that ingredients are mammal-free?
Matt: This information is often found in the medication package insert or through an online database. If we are unsure where specific ingredients are derived from, we’ll ask the manufacturer about their contents.
2AG: As patients with alpha-gal syndrome, what can we do to help make this easier for you?
Matt: If a patient is aware of any potential allergies, they should always let their pharmacy know so they can document the allergy in the patient’s medical record. Due to the delay in response from some manufacturers about ingredient sources, please allow for a few days for response.
2AG: Now that we are deep into flu season, we thought we’d ask some questions about the flu. Are antivirals like Tamiflu available in liquid/non-mammal form?
Matt: There are liquid versions of Tamiflu that are available mammal-free from some manufacturers.
2AG: What are some alternatives to protect ourselves from the flu or other viruses that have injectable vaccines?
Matt: It’s a good idea to take OTC supplements that can boost immune system response during the cold/flu season. Vitamin C, Zinc, and Elderberry are a few options. Feel free to ask our pharmacist for recommendations as needed.
A big thank you to Matt Rease and all the other pharmacists out there who are willing to make accommodations for those of us with alpha-gal syndrome. If you have other questions, pop them into our comments below for discussion.
We’re posting regularly on Facebook and Instagram, so don’t forget to visit us there for tips on day-to-day living with alpha-gal syndrome. Take care of yourselves, stay healthy, and thanks for checking in with us!
🐟 🐓 ❤️ Candice & Debbie