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What you need to know about Pharmacy Compounding
Pharmacy compounding is an old, well-established tradition that provides personalized care to meet the precise needs of the concerned individuals. It’s a branch of pharmacy that keeps playing a crucial role in drug development.
Have you been told as a patient that you’ll need a drug that’s currently in shortage? Have you ever hoped for a better taste for your child’s medication, so that he/she would accept it without creating an unwanted scenario or making a fuss? Have you ever wondered what the mass production of drugs entails? Does your friend/relative have an allergy and needs an allergen free medication? Do you find it hard to cut a prescribed tablet into half just because the pill wasn’t produced in your required strength? Or you probably felt an indisposed loved one would have a preference for the combination of his/her multiple medications into a single dose. These and much more are the issues that compounding pharmacists provide solutions to, in line with the FDA regulations.

What is Compounding? 
Pharmacy compounding is the concise art and science of preparing individualized medications for patients. Its existence dates back to the origins of pharmacy, although its relevance in the pharmacy profession has changed in recent years. In between the 1930s and 1940s, most of the prescriptions then were compounded. However, with the coming of mass production of drugs in the 1950s and ‘60s, compounding rate rapidly declined as the pharmacist’s role as a maker of medications swiftly changed to that of a dispenser of produced dosage forms. Nevertheless, the “one-size-fits-all” approach to the mass production of medications implied that some patients’ needs were not still adequately met.

What are the Innovations in Compounding Technology?
In the last few decades, compounding has indeed experienced a reformation as modern technology, innovative methods, and in-depth research has allowed more pharmacists to customize several medications to meet the individual patient’s unique needs.

Does the Compounding of Medications Require the Approval of FDA?
The FDA approval process is primarily meant for the mass-production of drugs made by the manufacturers. Since compounded medications are customized for individual patients, the federal government has officially agreed to the use of compounded drugs for those patients who have received a prescription for a particular compounded medication. Pharmacies that compound drugs must meet extensive regulatory guidelines that ensure drug efficacy and patient safety. This includes abiding with the rigorous compliance processes from start to finish while compounding

What do I stand to gain from compounding? 

There are several reasons for the provision of compounded medications for patients by prescribers and pharmacists. The core reason for compounding is to avert patients’ non-compliance, which means that such patients are either not willing or unable to use the medication as prescribed. Many patients develop an allergy to preservatives, dyes, or have other sensitivities while others require a dosage form or strength that is different from the standard ones. Asides providing answers to your questions on compounding, with the consent of a physician, a compounding pharmacist can:

  • Modify the form or adjust a medication’s strength.
  • Alter ingredients to avoid unwanted ones such as dyes, preservatives, gluten, sugar or lactose.
  • Add flavor to make the medicine more acceptable.
  • Combine or mix medications using unique delivery systems that are tailored to meet the needs of individual patients. For patients who find it hard to swallow a pill, a compounding pharmacist could prepare the drug as a flavored liquid suspension instead of the capsule form. Other drug forms include topical gels or creams which can be absorbed through the skin, sublingual troches, suppositories, lollipops, inhalers, or even patches.

Can my children or elderly parents take compounded drugs?
Yes! Children and elders are usually the categories of patients who benefit the most from compounding. It’s not uncommon for parents to have a tough time getting their kids or old ones to take medicine because of the taste. However, a compounding pharmacist can work directly with the physician and patient to choose a flavoring agent, such as tutti-frutti, bubblegum, grape, or vanilla butternut, which all provides both an appropriate match for the medication’s properties as well as the taste preferences of the patient. Just imagine a situation whereby a cranky patient has no opportunity to spit out administered drug talk less of wasting it! Compounding pharmacists also can help patients who suffer from chronic pain. For instance, some patients with a degenerative joint disease cannot ingest certain medications due to their susceptibility to gastrointestinal side effects. However, with a physician’s prescription, a compounding pharmacist may be able to provide these patients’ with pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medications via topical preparations which can be absorbed through the skin. Compounded prescriptions are frequently used to ease such suffering, nausea, and other clinical manifestations of hospice patients.

Is compounding legal and safe?
Compounding has been a routine activity of the healthcare setting since the ancient times even before the notable contribution of alchemy to the development of modern pharmacy. Today, the principles of pharmacy compounding are widely used in all sectors of the industry, from hospitals, nuclear medicine and to cosmetics. In recent years, compounding’s rebirth has benefited mostly from advances in technology, research methods, and proper quality control. The Food and Drug Administration has proclaimed that compounded prescriptions are both ethical and legal in as much as they are prescribed by a licensed practitioner for a specific patient and compounded by a certified pharmacy. The active ingredients of such formulations must also be easy to use, stable, efficient, and well-accepted by the patients. It should also be noted that the pharmacy state boards are regulating compounding.

Does my insurance cover compounded medications? 
Some specific insurance plans allow the patient to be paid back by sending in the claim forms. While you may be making direct payment to your pharmacy for a compounded prescription, the final cost may be covered by many insurance plans.

Is compounding costly? 
Compounded drugs may or may not be expensive more than the conventional medications. The cost depends on some factors such as the type of ingredients and equipment needed, plus the time spent on researching and preparing the drug. Luckily, compounding pharmacists now have access to pure-grade quality chemicals which rapidly lower overall costs, thereby allowing them to be very competitive with the commercially manufactured products.

What kinds of prescriptions can be compounded? 
Almost any kind! Compounded prescriptions are suitable for any patient requiring peculiar dosages and delivery devices.Applications of compounding include:

  • Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Hospice
  • Pediatrics
  • Pain relief
  • Ophthalmology
  • Dentistry
  • Otics (for the ear)
  • Dermatology
  • Medication flavoring
  • Neuropathy
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Sports medicine
  • Infertility
  • Wound therapy
  • Chiropody or Podiatry
  • Gastroenterology
  • And lots more!