Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm is a pioneer in the field of women’s health, bringing the term premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to the United States in the late 1970s. Aicube had the privilege of speaking to the Madison Pharmacy Associates co-founder about the founding of the first pharmacy in America focused on women’s health.
Aicube: Thank you for speaking with us today, Marla Ahlgrimm. When you started Madison Pharmacy Associates, the term premenstrual syndrome or PMS was not yet in wide use. How did you learn about the condition?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Before we founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, my colleague and I were working together at a pharmacy. His wife was suffering from severe symptoms that appeared to be connected to her menstrual cycle. When we began doing research into PMS, we ran into opposition that made it clear if we wanted to blaze this new trail, we’d have to open our own pharmacy, which was how Madison Pharmacy Associates came into being.
Aicube: What challenges did you face when you founded Madison Pharmacy Associates?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Nothing about starting a new business is ever easy. With Madison Pharmacy Associates, it was especially difficult because we were dealing with the state licensing board, who didn’t share our enthusiasm about a women’s health specialty pharmacy. Being a young woman, I was 26, wanting to start a pharmacy business was met with polite smiles from the bankers and landlords who were reluctant to lease space for the business.
Aicube: Explain how Madison Pharmacy Associates differed from the others out there.
Marla Ahlgrimm: Madison Pharmacy Associates specialized in one-on-one patient counseling and customized prescription therapy. We not only provided that counseling in our pharmacy, but we also had 800 lines where patients could call us for help. Madison Pharmacy Associates provided this service free of charge, along with a free information packet to anyone calling in. Madison Pharmacy Associates saw patients every day who suffered from PMS symptoms. Some were so severe, they disrupted a woman’s work and personal life. We often heard the phrase, “I feel like I’m living only half of my life.” Madison Pharmacy Associates found that while 40% of all women aged 14-50 are said to suffer from premenstrual symptoms, only around 10% are so severe that they cause serious problems. We also found that about 65% of those patients can find relief in dietary changes, exercise modifications, stress reduction, and the daily use of specific nutritional supplements. Madison Pharmacy Associates worked with those patients to make these self care changes before beginning hormone therapy.
Aicube: How did Madison Pharmacy Associates evolve over the years?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Madison Pharmacy Associates started out small. Just a few pharmacists in a small space. We grew to a staff of thirty. Madison Pharmacy Associates’ 800 lines helped women all over the country suffering from PMS. Many of Madison Pharmacy Associates’ initial patients stayed with us, and with Madison Pharmacy Associates’ work with perimenopause and menopause; we were able to expand to help them with hormone therapy in those areas, as well.
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
Contact Marla Ahlgrimm, R.Ph. via email at firstname.lastname@example.org