Few pharmacists take advantage of the fact that they are the only professionals allowed by law to compound medicines. Fran├žois Jooste is one who’s found a profitable niche in compounding for the ‘natural’ market.

“My initial pharmacy training was European-based, which includes compounding,” he says. With this expertise and his interest in alternative medicines, Jooste approached natural health practitioners, such as homeopaths, naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and aromatherapists, and offered to make prescriptions for them.

Today, about 40% of his compounding business is comprised of these complementary prescriptions. As a trained naturopath, he writes his own prescriptions–about 15% of the total. The rest are prescribed by physicians. He says it isn’t difficult to find ingredients to compound natural medicines. “Chinese herbs and herbal products are all readily available from suppliers.”

Aromatherapy is one of his specialties. “There’s a big demand for aromatherapy,” says Jooste, “especially for the terminally ill. I make room deodorizers and mixtures that boost concentration or induce sleep.”

He also specializes in compounding natural hormone replacements, providing not only the prescriptions, but also an initial assessment and two follow-ups to track the patient’s progress, which are then reported to the prescriber. Jooste charges $50 to start the assessment. After the second follow-up, he charges $50 for each additional assessment. “Customers gladly pay,” he says. “They like the personal attention. And physicians are happy because they get reports about their patient’s progress.”