WYCKOFF, N.J. — David M. Miller, a third-generation pharmacist at Millers Homecare and Compounding Pharmacy in Wyckoff, has been named Independent Pharmacist of the Year.
The award, announced this week by the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, recognizes Miller's service to patients and the community for the past 36 years.
There have been many changes in the industry since his grandfather, Robert Miller, founded the pharmacy in 1929.
“The biggest was computerizing the profession back in the ’80s,” Miller said. “That gave insurance companies control over all aspects of billing.
“Now,” he added, “they control everything.”
But, for all the changes, 87 years of family tradition and professional standards have created untouchable values in the way Millers operates.
“The overriding principle is fairness,” he said. “You take care of your customers by being honest with them. People have come to trust us as pharmacists and for our general advice.”
Miller’s grandfather opened a pharmacy in Passaic in 1918. During the Great Depression, it went under. So he brought the family to Wyckoff, then known as “the country.”
The Millers knew the town because they’d vacationed there.
Turned out, the pharmacy in Wyckoff had failed, too, David Miller explained. The mayor asked Robert Miller to start anew and offered him use of the building where Millers is now located.
Eventually, Robert Miller bought it from the town.
Millers has grown through three generations. Currently, it features a nutrition center. On staff is a nutritionist with a doctorate and a dietitian with a master’s degree.
The pharmacy also sells and fits people for medical equipment, including stockings, braces, breast prostheses, and liposuction garments – an element Miller’s father, Richard, added in the 1970s.
It dispenses commercial medications, of course, and others that it compounds: four of its six pharmacists work in compounding.
“Compounding is what pharmacists used to do in the 1920s and 1930s,” Miller said. “There weren’t that many commercially prepared medications at that time. Pharmacists would take herbal products and mix them into capsules and liquids and all kinds of potions.”
Back then, doctors’ prescriptions were typically written in Latin and called for eight to 10 ingredients, he said.
In the 1980s, Miller was one of the first pharmacists in New Jersey to return the profession to its compounding roots. At the time, Millers had a lot of hospice patients who couldn’t swallow.
So Miller took up the challenge of formulating topical creams, suppositories, nasal sprays, and other products that would help people take the medicines they needed.
Today, Millers converts pediatric medicines into forms its littlest patients can take. It creates special sterile eyedrops, topical chemotherapies, natural hormone replacement therapies, and much more.
At its heart, Miller said, Millers is a community health center.
He just likes being there for people. After all, there’s been a Miller behind the counter there for a very long time.