Q?What Is Compounding?

Pharmacy compounding is a practice that merges art and science, and results in the preparation of customized medications that are specific to patient needs. Its history can be traced back to the origins of pharmacy, but compounding’s role in the pharmacy industry has changed quite a bit over the course of the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of prescriptions administered were, indeed, compounded, which meant they were custom-made to a patient’s very specific needs. With the onset of mass drug manufacturing during the 1950s and 1960s, the practice of compounding started to decline and the pharmacist’s role in the preparation of medication quickly shifted. Pharmacists were now dispensing mass manufactured dosage forms of medication. This “one-size-fits-all” approach did not meet all patients’ needs.

As modern technology, innovative techniques and research have made many advances within the last few decades, the practice of compounding has experienced a rebirth. As a result, more pharmacists are now customizing medications to meet the very unique set of needs that vary from patient to patient.
Q?What Are The Benefits Of Compounding?
There are several reasons why prescribers and pharmacists provide compounded medications for patients. The primary reason is to avoid patient non-compliance, which means that patients are 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
  • Omit unwanted ingredients, such as lactose, gluten, sugar, dyes or preservatives
  • Add flavor to make the medication more palatable
  • Prepare medications using unique delivery systems. For example, for patients who find it difficult to swallow a capsule, a compounding pharmacist can specially prepare the drug as a flavored liquid suspension. Other medication forms include topical gels or creams that can be absorbed through the skin, as well as suppositories, sublingual troches or even lollipops.
Q?What Type Of Patients Can Take Compounded Medications?
Children and the elderly often benefit most from compounding. Due to issues with taste, many parents struggle when trying to administer medicine to their child. A compounding pharmacist can work directly with the physician and the patient to select a flavor. Some offerings include bubblegum, grape, tutti frutti, or vanilla butternut.

Compounding pharmacists can also assist patients who experience chronic pain. For example, due to gastrointestinal side effects, some arthritic patients can’t take specific medications. With a healthcare practitioner’s prescription, a compounding pharmacist may customize anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications with topical preparations that can be absorbed through the skin. Compounded prescriptions are also frequently used to ease pain, nausea and other symptoms for hospice patients as well.

Q?Is Compounding Safe and Legal?

Compounding has been an integral part of healthcare since the origins of pharmacy and is commonly used in all areas of the industry—from hospital care to nuclear medicine. Over the last few decades, the resurgence of compounding has benefited from advances in technology, quality control and research methodology. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that compounded prescriptions are both ethical and legal as long as they are prescribed by a licensed practitioner for a specific patient and compounded by a licensed pharmacy. In addition, compounding is regulated by state boards of pharmacy.

Q?Is Compounding Expensive? Will It Be Covered By My Insurance?

Since compounding offers customized solutions, the medicines may or may not cost more than conventional medicine. The cost depends on a variety of significant factors such as the type of ingredients used and the equipment required to create it, as well as the time the pharmacist spends researching and preparing the medication. Fortunately, compounding pharmacists have access to pure-grade quality chemicals which dramatically lower overall costs, enabling them to price their medications very competitively.

After payment, some insurance plans enable patients to be reimbursed by submitting claim forms. While patients may pay a pharmacy directly for a compounded prescription, many insurance plans may actually cover the final cost. Please check with your insurance provider.

Q?What Kind Of Prescriptions Can Be Compounded?
Almost any kind of prescription. Compounded prescriptions are ideal for any patient that requires unique dosages and/or delivery devices.

Compounding applications can include:

  • Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT)
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hospice
  • Infertility
  • Medication flavoring
  • Neuropathy
  • Ophthalmology
  • Otic (for the ear)
  • Pain management
  • Pediatrics
  • Podiatry
  • Sports medicine
  • Veterinary
  • Wound therapy
  • And many more!
Q?Will My Doctor Be Educated On The Practice Of Compounding?
Prescription compounding is a rapidly growing component of many physicians’ practices, however some may not realize the extent to which compounding has made a resurgence in recent years. This is due to drug manufacturers’ current practice of aggressive marketing.

Ask your healthcare practitioner about compounding or contact The Compounding Facility — We are committed to providing high-quality compounded medications in the dosage form and strength prescribed by your practitioner. Through the triad relationship of patient, prescriber and pharmacist, we can work together to solve unique medical problems.