- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) - If you didn’t know Guy and only heard about an average day’s schedule, it would be easy to think he was a man in his 20s.

He operates four pharmacies and a lab-test franchise.

He’s taking a course in neurology. He speaks at conferences.

He’s active in his church. He plays mandolin in a bluegrass band. He raises chickens, cures his own hams and makes his own cane syrup - from cane he grows himself, of course.

Guy might have the vigor of a younger man, but his four decades as a pharmacist betray his 64 years.

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of Guy’s first pharmacy.

Only eight months out of the Ole Miss pharmacy school, on April 1, 1976, he acquired a Howard Brothers pharmacy on Highway 98 where the Pike County Health Department now sits. He took ownership after a transaction with First Bank president Gordon Covington that he said lasted only five minutes.

He also credits a spiritual component of that early business deal, saying, “The Lord puts a lot of stuff together.”

Less than five years later, he bought the Causey-Sanders pharmacy in Pike Center Mart on Presley Boulevard. Soon thereafter he consolidated his two businesses into the Causey-Sanders space, christening the new entity Southwest Discount Drugs, a name that still appears on the sign over the door.

Guy is a compounding pharmacist.

Compounded medicines are personalized for patients who might, for example, have difficulty swallowing pills, or who are allergic to the dyes in mass-market products.

But in the mid-20th century, as pharmaceutical companies grew in scope and influence - Guy refers to them as monsters - they took ideas from the compounding realm and standardized them. The focus shifted from individual solutions to mass production, he said.

The pendulum swung back in the 1980s and compounding experienced a resurgence, in part because some people searched for alternatives to the multi-national conglomerates that dominated the drug market.

That industry shift coincided with Guy’s early days as a businessman, contributing to an environment in which his pharmacy could grow.

But the health of his customers has always been his overarching concern.

He attends conferences, where he describes the primary activity as pharmacists trading “watchagotfors,” as in “What have you got for” this ailment or that. They eagerly share successful compounds and treatments with their colleagues.

It is important, he believes, to keep current with medical and pharmaceutical advances because patients “will be ahead of me,” frequently conducting their own research before ever arriving at the pharmacy.

In 1992 Guy bought Medical Center Pharmacy. Next came Guy’s Innovative Pharmacy, with its sophisticated compounding lab. Sharing a building with Medical Center Pharmacy, it is where Guy spends most of his time.

On the premises are both non-sterile and sterile labs. To enter the latter area it is necessary for the pharmacist to don a gown, surgical mask and foot coverings, just as if he were going into an operating room.

Guy’s is one of fewer than 150 compounding labs nationwide that hold the dual non-sterile and sterile certifications.

Even as his modest empire has expanded in McComb and beyond, his flagship location in Pike Center Mart is still in operation and thriving. It also is about to undergo a renovation.

Southwest Discount Drugs will assume what Guy describes as an “old town feel,” decorated by memorabilia evoking the turn of the 20th century. Some of it dates from his father’s auto repair business and even earlier.

Guy noted he was recently studying his neurology lessons at 4 a.m., but he didn’t see it as a chore.

He speaks with zeal about such topics such as the gut-brain axis, which deals with the connection between the gastrointestinal tract and brain function.

The pharmaceutical and nutritional aspects of cognitive care, and the prospect of advances with Alzheimer’s disease occupy much of his time and attention these days. He is working toward a Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine certification.

Expanding beyond his pharmacy practice, in 2012 Guy opened a franchise of the Any Lab Test Now chain, which shares the building with his Innovative and Medical Center pharmacies.

In 2013, Guy’s Ole Brook Pharmacy opened in Brookhaven, marking his first foray outside of McComb. Coincidentally, that store is across the street from the spot where his pharmacy career began long ago.

Guy’s efforts aren’t limited to improving the health and well-being of humans. He extends his skills and creativity to the veterinary world, employing a variety of techniques to make medicine more palatable and effective for animals.

He produces a model of a canine ear, with its sharp twists and turns, and explains how he adapted a particular gel to treat ear infections in dogs.

A cabinet in his compounding lab holds an array of flavoring agents bringing to mind a restaurant kitchen more than a pharmacy.

A check of his computerized records shows that he has created 5,510 unique formulations in the last four decades.

Asked if, after creating so many different preparations over the years, he ever misfired, he says with a self-deprecating laugh, “Oh, yes. I flubbed on myself.”

He said he once made a metal-free deodorant but it didn’t have the intended effect. “It scalded me, and I walked around like a chicken for days,” he said.

Guy seems to have a bottomless reservoir of entrepreneurial spirit, passion for learning and care.

Without being asked, he offers, “No, I?have no plan to retire.”


Information from: Enterprise-Journal, https://www.enterprise-journal.com

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