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communityspotlight ATLAS DRUG & NUTRITION:

Partnering with Patients in an Integrative Approach by Lauressa Nelson


egistered Pharmacist and Certified Clinical Nutrition- ist Anthony Ortiz, owner of Atlas Drug and Nutri- tion, in North Bergen, has taken decades to develop his approach to healthcare. He became a registered pharmacist in 1980, graduating from Long Is- land University’s Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Brooklyn, New York. As a young pharmacist, he worked for several major drugstore chains and a few independent pharmacies, learning the strengths and weaknesses of each. While working at Atlas Drug in 1990, Or- tiz had an opportunity to buy the independent pharmacy, which has been in business since the 1920s. Sensing that the company had great potential, he took the leap into en- trepreneurship.

By 1999, Ortiz was ready to grow Atlas Drug. He renovated the building and even expanded into an adjoining storefront. However, the company’s most transformation- al change began when he started reading about nutrition, herbs and natural medicine and attended a

12 Hudson County

presentation by Naturopathic Physician Michael Murray. “I became really intrigued and thought it would be powerful if I could learn to integrate this knowledge into the store,” he recounts. “Traditional pharma- cists would not be open to those things, but I was always looking for something else. You have to be open-minded to challenge yourself and see what is out there.” Ortiz also completed certification cours- es in compounding, asthma edu- cation and home healthcare, and added a compounding component to the pharmacy.

Anthony Ortiz, RPH, CCN

Pharmaceutical compound- ing is the creation of a medication to fit the specific needs of a pa- tient—for example, a dosage that is unavailable commercially or the exclusion of an ingredient the indi- vidual needs to avoid. “Many pa- tients are allergic to preservatives or dyes in commercially available drugs, or are lactose-intolerant,” explains Ortiz. “A pharmacist can compound prescriptions that are free of preservatives, dyes and lac- tose. More physicians are prescrib- ing compounded medications for

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