Marla Ahlgrimm has come a long way from the early days—battling to educate the country about premenstrual syndrome while co-founding Madison Pharmacy Associates. Starting in a 700 square foot pharmacy space, Madison Pharmacy Associates immediately attracted national attention, with Ahlgrimm and her colleague fielding calls seven days a week.
After that first year, Ahlgrimm was able to hire a third pharmacist, as well as a bookkeeper. The business was steadily growing as word spread about the work Madison Pharmacy Associates was doing, but it wasn’t easy. As Marla Ahlgrimm recalls today, Madison Pharmacy Associates found themselves starting from scratch at every level while facing skepticism and even outright opposition from colleagues, lending institutions, and friends and family.
Because Madison Pharmacy Associates’ work was groundbreaking, Marla Ahlgrimm had to learn how to do everything, from financing to phone systems to interpreting state and federal regulations. Permission had to granted from the State Pharmacy Board to even open a pharmacy specializing in women’s health. In addition to state authorities, Ahlgrimm and her colleague also had to deal with the FDA. They were able to observe the process for getting a new drug approved, as well as learn about federal and university research protocols. Marketing this new type of pharmacy was also a challenge.
“Madison Pharmacy Associates pioneered the techniques for getting the word out about our services,” Marla Ahlgrimm recalls. This often involved providing background information to radio and television researchers. In the meantime, Ahlgrimm co-authored two successful books titled The HRT Solution–Optimizing Your Hormone Potential and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome, which helped to spread the word. Soon, Ahlgrimm found physicians and patients were contacting her for advice. Over time, Ahlgrimm found her work not only respected but imitated. Madison Pharmacy Associates’ techniques to improve powder flow and medication absorption, for instance, were incorporated at major pharmaceutical companies. Madison Pharmacy Associates’ emphasis on prescription compounding was used as an example to University of Wisconsin pharmacy students that compounding is still an important part of the industry. The pharmacy continues to serve as a clinical rotation site for pharmacy students.
Often Marla Ahlgrimm is asked to provide advice for pharmacists interested in having the same industry-wide impact as she has. “Remember that intangible values such as pride, vision, trust, and optimism reveal themselves in every transaction you and your employees are involved in,” Marla Ahlgrimm advises. “In fact, these things are the most important measures of success.”
The information in this article has been previously published and is provided as a reference resource by Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. Madison Pharmacy Associates was sold in 2011. Marla Ahlgrimm is also the co-founder and President of Cyclin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The company sells proprietary products for the women’s health market as well as ProCycle PMS and ProCycle Gold products. For more information, go online to www.cyclinpharma.com