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'I just wanted a pharmacy based on pharmacy,' says Medicine Shoppe owner (5 photos)

Pharmacist Jon MacDonald is the subject of this week’s What’s Up Wednesday

When you walk into Jon’s Medicine Shoppe in the city’s west end, you won’t find a magazine rack with laughable tabloid headlines, cosmetics, candy and other food items, toiletries or shelves of boutique items.

“I just wanted a pharmacy based on pharmacy. There’s hardly any front shop here. We do 99.5 per cent prescriptions and patient needs, not toilet paper or anything,” grinned Jon MacDonald, Jon’s Medicine Shoppe owner/pharmacist.

Jon, a Sault native (“from the top of Bruce Street hill,” he told SooToday), has been a pharmacist for 41 years.

We dropped by the Medicine Shoppe last week to chat and learn, Jon’s pharmacy the subject of this week’s SooToday What’s Up Wednesday.

Prior to becoming owner/pharmacist at Jon’s Medicine Shoppe in 1999, he was a pharmacist at the Market Mall Pharmacy from 1979 to 1988, then at The Prescription Centre in the Doctor’s Building between Sault Area Hospital’s former Plummer and General sites from 1989 to 1999.

There are many dedicated, intelligent pharmacists in town, but Jon is one of the very few on the local scene who specializes in pharmacy compounding.

Simply put for those of us who don’t list science as one of our strong points, Jon said “compounding is where you make a prescription from scratch and customize it to a patient’s need, on an individual, one-on-one basis, as opposed to manufacturing where they manufacture tablets in bulk and one size fits everybody.”

“Some people have allergies, for example, to gluten, so we make gluten-free products. There are certain flavours or colouring or a dosage which might not be appropriate for older people, they might need a lower dosage, so we will custom make that into capsules for them instead of leaving them to try to split a pill into four pieces.”

Clearly a compassionate man who cares for his clients, Jon added “we do a lot of palliative care where we work hand-in-hand with ARCH.”

“We do their pain medications and supply their needs at the hospice, and we work with the Health at Home’s palliative care team, we do all the palliative care in the city. We make up palliative care kits...if people can choose to die at home, we can have palliative care kits ready for their nurses,” Jon said.

Jon’s Medicine Shoppe is the only pharmacy in town with specially-equipped negative and positive pressure rooms, much like a hospital operating room in which Jon and his staff don special surgical clothing (hat, mask, gown, rubber gloves and special footgear) and perform compounding and other specialized pharmaceutical work.

“I was originally going to go into engineering but one summer I changed my mind because one of the owners of IDA, my brother married his daughter and talked me into going into pharmacy...the rest is history,” Jon said.

“I like having empathy and care for other people, and I want to help them,” Jon said when asked why he loves being a pharmacist.

“Pharmacists have been under utilized in health care, but more and more we can do flu shots, we can do immunization for travel vaccinations and things like that.”

“We’re the most accessible. You can walk into any drug store and ask for a pharmacist. You can call your doctor and it could be six weeks before you get to see him. I like doing the one on one stuff and problem solving,” Jon said, adding he gets questions from people asking about pet-related health concerns, and, occasionally, prepares medication to be shipped out of town (though he emphasized he doesn’t believe in internet pharmacy).