What is compounding?
Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medications for patients. Its practice dates back to the origins of pharmacy, although compounding’s presence in the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of prescriptions were compounded. With the advent of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s, compounding declined as the pharmacist’s role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms. However, this “one-size-fits-all” approach to medication meant that some patients’ needs were not being met.
Within the last few decades, however, compounding has experienced a renaissance as modern technology and innovative techniques and research have allowed more pharmacists to customize medications to meet a patient’s unique needs.
How does compounding benefit me?
There are several reasons why prescribers and pharmacists provide compounded medications for patients. The primary reason for compounding is to avoid patient non-compliance, which means the patient is either unable or unwilling to use the medication as directed. Many patients are allergic to preservatives or dyes or require a dosage that is different from the standard drug strengths.
With a physician’s consent, a compounding pharmacist can:
- Adjust the strength of a medication
- Avoid unwanted ingredients, such as dyes, preservative, lactose, gluten, or sugar.
- Add flavor to make the medication more palatable
- Prepare medications using unique delivery systems. For patients who find it difficult to swallow a capsule, a compounding pharmacist may prepare the drug as a flavored liquid suspension instead. Other medication forms include topical gels or creams that can be absorbed through the skin, suppositories, sublingual troches, or even lollipops.
Can my child – or my elderly parent – take compounded medication?
Yes! Children and the elderly are often the types of patients who benefit most from compounding. It is common for parents to have a tough time getting their children to take medicine because of the taste. A compounding pharmacist can work directly with the physician and the patient to select a flavoring agent, such as bubblegum, grape, tutti frutti, or vanilla butternut, which provides both an appropriate match for the medication’s properties and the patient’s taste preferences. Just think – no more wasting medicine when a cranky patient spits it out! (This applies to veterinary patients too!)
Compounding pharmacists also can help patients who experience chronic pain. For example, some arthritic patients cannot take certain medications due to gastrointestinal side effects. With a healthcare practitioner’s prescription, a compounding pharmacist may be able to provide these patients’ anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications with topical preparations that can be absorbed through the skin. Compounded prescriptions frequently are used to ease pain, nausea, and other symptoms for hospice patients as well.
Is compounding legal? Is it safe?
Is compounding expensive?
What kinds of prescriptions can be compounded?
Almost any kind! Compounded prescriptions are ideal for any patient requiring unique dosages and/or delivery devices.
Compounding applications can include:
- Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)
- Pain management
- Otic (for the ear)
- Medication flavoring
- Sports medicine
- Wound therapy
- And many more!
Does my prescriber know about compounding?
Prescription compounding is a rapidly growing component of many physicians’ practices, but some may not realize the extent of compounding’s resurgence in recent years due to today’s climate of aggressive marketing by drug manufacturers. Ask your healthcare practitioner about compounding or get in touch with us. Through the triad relationship of patient, prescriber, and pharmacist, all three can work together to solve unique medical problems.
Is custom compounding right for you? Ask your healthcare practitioner or call us today about the benefits of personalized prescription compounding.