Real-Life Pharmacist Inspires New TV Pilot

June 22, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

A unique pharmacist has caught the attention of The New Yorker, PBS, and now 2 well-known TV producers.

A unique pharmacist has caught the attention of The New Yorker, PBS, and now 2 well-known TV producers.

Katie Jacobs, director and producer of the TV show “House,” and Nick Wechsler, who has produced movies such as “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and “Magic Mike,” have created a TV pilot called “Dr. Del,” inspired by real-life pharmacist Don Colcord of Nucla, Colorado.

Colcord, now 64, told The Watch he has wanted to be a pharmacist since age 8. He earned his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Colorado in Boulder and worked at a hospital in Denver before taking a job at a store called Gibson Pharmacy. In 1994, he opened up his own place called The Apothecary Shoppe.

In addition to pharmaceuticals, The Apothecary Shoppe has a little of everything: an ice cream machine, toys, makeup, cleaning supplies, some groceries, and fountain drinks.

Nulca’s population has dropped dramatically over the years, but “Dr. Don” has held onto the business. One of the reasons why he has fought to keep the business afloat is because of the underserved rural area, where clinics and hospitals are not easily accessed, especially for the impoverished.

The Watch reported that Colcord has thrown out bills for compounded medications because he knows the patients may not be able to afford to pay him back. He also repairs glasses for the poor for free and has fixed printers and watches for the elderly.

Meanwhile, he sees his business struggling, and said he is not sure if he will be able to keep it alive until he wants to retire, he told The Watch.

“My breed is really dying out…due to insurance, low reimbursement rates,” Colcord told the paper.

Despite these challenges, Colcord is currently training a pharmacist to assist him with compounding. He will be paying the pharmacist with his own salary, which is the going rate for a new hire, and Colcord will resort to living off his life savings, according to The Watch.

Colcord originally received national recognition when Peter Hessler, a writer for The New Yorker, arrived in town to cover a proposed uranium mill, but instead switched the story to focus on the pharmacist. The Watch reported that Hessler was fascinated to find out that in addition to being the town pharmacist, Colcord did the announcing for football games, homecoming, and parades; set off fireworks for the town; and was the resident pilot.

The list of amusing characteristics goes on. Colcord is also a member of the National Rifle Association, a registered Democrat, an advocate for nuclear energy, and an admirer of classical music.

In addition to the New Yorker profile, Colcord was also recently interviewed by PBS for a not-yet-aired movie on living and dying.

Colcord told The Watch that he hopes the TV pilot gets picked up by a network, so he can keep his pharmacy open and also help pay for his wife’s medical bills. His partner, Kretha Colcord, was diagnosed with spina bifida 20 years ago. She has requested not to be depicted in the show.

Colcord, meanwhile, will be played by John Hawkes, who has appeared in “Lost” and “Deadwood.”

“I will be a little disappointed if [the show] doesn’t make it,” he told The Watch. “I would like to see a pharmacy show out there.”