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Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing medications that are custom-blended, patient-specific treatments for those individuals who do not respond well to off-the-shelf medications. Individual ingredients are mixed together in the exact strength and dosage form required for the patient. This method allows the compounding pharmacist to work with the patient and the prescribing physician to customize a medication to meet the patient’s specific needs.
There are several reasons why prescribers recommend 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:
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, tropical punch, or caramel, 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!
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.While compounded medications are not for everyone, they offer a safe alternative to many patients for a variety of medical conditions.
Almost any kind of prescription can be compounded. Compounded prescriptions are idea for any patient requiring unique dosages and/or delivery devices, which can take the form of solutions, suppositories, sprays, oral rinses, troches, lollipops, and even transdermal sticks.
Because compounded medications are exempt by law from having the National Drug Code ID numbers that manufactured products carry, some insurance companies will not directly reimburse the compounding pharmacy. Please check with your insurance plan(s) to see if they cover compounded medications.
Compounding has been part of healthcare since the origins of pharmacy, and is widely used today in all areas of the industry, from hospitals to nuclear medicine. Over the last few decades, compounding’s resurgence has benefited largely from advances in technology, quality control and research methodology. The Food and Drug Administration 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.
Prescription compounding is a rapidly growing component of many physicians’ practices, but some may not realize the extent of compounding’s impact on positive patient outcomes. Ask your healthcare practitioner about compounding, or get in touch with our compounding pharmacist. Through the close relationship of patient, prescriber, and pharmacist, all three can work together to solve your unique medical problem.