A passion for animals that began with 4-H Club turned into a career for Meg Lamb, R.Ph, FACVP.
The Northeast Ohio Medical University clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and American College of Veterinary Pharmacists fellow uses her role as a clinical faculty member to show students aspects of pharmacy beyond “standing behind the counter and counting pills,” as Lamb likes to say.
Sharing with students
Lamb and her husband Tom, a fellow College of Pharmacy clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, have owned and operated Sand Run Pharmacy, located in Akron, Ohio, since 1989.
It is at their pharmacy where Lamb compounds medications for some of the smallest patients – animals.
Lamb understands there is a need for more specialized training when it comes to veterinary pharmacy compounding, so she has made it her mission to give students an up-close look at the specialty.
“I think compounding is fun for students. What we hope to do is expose students to the different options there are in pharmacy and if we’re lucky, they may find something unexpected that they really like,” she says.
Some love compounding, some hate it. Either way, the experience is important, says Lamb: “When it comes to veterinary pharmacy compounding, mistakes can happen in a retail setting. Not intentionally, but because there is a lack of knowledge and experience. There’s definitely a need for veterinary pharmacy compounding, including for exotic animals,” Lamb says.
Dosing for dolphins
Some of Lamb’s favorite memories come from working with animals at SeaWorld Ohio, a theme park and marine zoological park formerly located in Aurora, Ohio.
Working with animals at SeaWorld Ohio came down to problem-solving – and lots of it, Lamb shared.
“We had to figure out how to get how many units of a nystatin powder (because it’s based on weight) into a dosage form that we could give each animal. So we made treats. With one of the medications, we were challenged with, ‘How do we get this amount of drug into a treat?’ We ended up buying ice cube trays and calibrating them for the size and quantity of medications they would hold. We made king size, if you will, dosage forms because that’s what it had to be. On the other hand, if we were dosing a penguin or dolphin, we had to figure out what medications we could make to fit inside a fish,” Lamb says.
Lamb explains that compounding just takes a little creativity and flavor.
A taste of pharmacy
When it comes to compounding for animals, you’re always learning and creating, says Lamb. A few tricks of the trade she learned as a fellow of ACVP:
“Chicken flavoring is one of the most popular here, but it’s not the most fun one. We have an apple flavoring that smells tangy and tart, so that’s one of our favorite ones to work with. A lot of the students hate working with fish and liver. The smellier, the better for kitties. Kind of like for humans, a little bacon doesn’t hurt anything,” she says.
Stepping into the community
While Lamb manages the compounding portion of Sand Run Pharmacy, she also is the person who waters the flowers, puts holiday decorations up and composes the pharmacy’s monthly newsletter. And as small business owners, the Lambs and their pharmacy staff work with other local businesses and organizations to promote each other.
They present community programs with Partners for Safety, a fall-prevention program in Akron that’s composed of volunteers from the fire departments along with health care organizations. One topic: making sure that medications aren’t causing falls. Lamb likes to use these community-oriented events as one more way to connect with the pharmacy students she precepts.