When Marla Ahlgrimm and a colleague first discussed opening a business focused on helping women suffering from premenstrual syndrome, close friends told them they were throwing all their eggs in one basket. As a reminder of their planned success, Ahlgrimm’s business partner got a basket and put an egg in it. Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, a practice that eventually grew to help women nationwide. The co-founders of Madison Pharmacy Associates were even interviewed in national magazines and newspapers. “We saw an opportunity here,” Ahlgrimm says. “And I guess we were right”.
Entrepreneur and visionary Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a medical doctor; she is a pharmacist from Madison, Wisconsin, and an expert on women’s healthcare topics. She and a coworker founded Madison Pharmacy Associates in the 1980s when they realized that management of the firm in which they worked was unsympathetic to women’s needs. Specifically, she says her superiors balked at the idea of PMS as an actual disorder. When Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm overheard a manager referring to women with PMS as neurotic, she had had enough. Today, well over a quarter million women have found a listening ear and relief of their PMS symptoms thanks to Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm.
The idea to open her own practice came to Ahlgrimm while working in a pharmacy in the late 1970s. Believing in the importance of patient education, Ahlgrimm often took 30 to 45 minutes at a time to counsel patients individually. While helping a colleague’s wife, Ahlgrimm began researching PMS, eventually finding a way to treat her new patient’s symptoms. Word of the pharmacist’s work spread and calls began flooding in.
Though out of respect many clients refer to her as “Dr.”, Marla Ahlgrimm is a pharmacist with a personal interest in women’s health. As the cofounder of Madison Pharmacy Associates, this once little-known pharmacy employee has helped lead the way for clinical practitioners to respect PMS as more than just psychosomatic nonsense. It wasn’t easy; in the beginning many people, including the banks, said she was sure to fail. However, Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm’s unwavering determination helped create one of the first pharmacies dedicated to helping women overcome PMS. Over the last 30 years, Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm and Madison Pharmacy Associates have helped countless women manage their PMS symptoms through diet, exercise and balanced medical compounds.
Wanting to open a pharmacy geared specifically toward women, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates in 1982 and soon found she was constantly called on to answer questions for women and physicians desperate for help. Ahlgrimm has found in her years of practice that someone who is empathetic and willing to listen to a patient can be a big first step. “They may not find their husbands easy to talk to about PMS, and their physician’s time is usually limited,” Ahlgrimm says.
While as a pharmacist, Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm does not hold a PhD, she has earned the nickname “Dr.” over the years as medical professionals worldwide have come to respect her work in the still relatively young science of premenstrual syndrome. She has been pivotal in the United States for developing educational materials on the subject. As the founder of Madison Pharmacy Associates, she was among the first clinicians in the nation to discuss PMS with the FDA. Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm and her team worked feverishly to develop compounds that would help women manage PMS symptoms. The dedication and energy that Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm has put toward the research of PMS has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of women.
In addition to one-on-one counseling, Madison Pharmacy Associates compounded and dispensed medications, especially progesterone, which is the most widely prescribed therapy for PMS. Progesterone prescriptions were provided in several dosage forms, including capsules, topical creams, rectal suspension, suppositories, and oral sustained release tablets. Over her years with Madison Pharmacy Associates, Ahlgrimm learned which dosage forms are likely to work best in certain circumstances.
Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm is not a medical doctor; she is a compounding pharmacist and entrepreneur in the business of women’s health. In the very early 80s, she and a colleague founded Madison Pharmacy Associates so that women suffering PMS could get the respect that they so deserved. Starting a new business isn’t always easy, she says, especially when you’re going against popular opinion. Before Madison Pharmacy Associates even opened their doors, Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm questioned herself extensively. She knew her heart was in the right place, but was unsure of her business planning skills. Somehow, Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm made it work and to date, she and Madison Pharmacy Associates have made a positive difference in the lives of countless women.
While a pharmacist often relies on a patient’s physician to make recommendations, Marla Ahlgrimm often took calls from physicians seeking her advice. This began while she was with Madison Pharmacy Associates and continues today. “It’s really important to work closely with patients and their physicians,” Marla Ahlgrimm says. “You need to be sure the symptoms aren’t caused by some other medication or disorder that’s being missed.” Ahlgrimm has found that with progesterone, several adjustments must be made over several menstrual cycles before the most effective dosage and administration route is found.
Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm does not hold a PhD in medicine, though friends, family and clients often reference her vast medical knowledge. She and a friend began Madison Pharmacy Associates with a small building, only about 700 square feet. Over time the firm grew and is now an asset to women and their physicians when discussing treatments for premenstrual syndrome. Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm handpicked experienced pharmacist who share a similar passion and vision to make at least one aspect of women’s lives more manageable. Though it wasn’t always easy, Madison Pharmacy Associates has remained successful and continues Dr. Marla Ahlgrimm’s work to make recurring PMS symptoms manageable.
The information in this article has been previously published and is provided as a reference resource by Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. The businesses referenced above were 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