What on earth is a compounding pharmacy and why would you need one?
Almost every neighbourhood in every town and city across the globe has a pharmacy where they can pick up prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines. However, not every community pharmacy is a compounding pharmacy, which has the ability to customize medications according to your unique needs.
Pharmaceutical compounding is both an art and a science. A trained pharmacist will mix individual ingredients and drugs to fit the unique needs of a patient, creating a custom product (cream, capsule, transdermal gel, liquid or even lollipops or suppositories) from bulk products to fulfil a physician’s prescription.
It’s a bit like baking a cake.
You might decide you want your cake to be gluten-free and vegan. While the process of baking the cake in the oven at a certain temperature will be the same, the ingredients will be different and the process of mixing the ingredients may change accordingly.
This is the essence of a compounding pharmacy. Think of your pharmacist as a specialized baker who works with your doctor to create the perfect cake for you by mixing the exact ingredients in the correct quantities.
Sounds too Utopian? It doesn’t need to be. Cake metaphor aside, custom medication for specialized treatment is exactly what a compounding pharmacy offers.
Who uses compounding pharmacies?
Physicians may prescribe an individually compounded medication for a patient with a unique or unusual health need. This allows the physician to tailor a prescription to the exact strength, dosage and health requirements of their patient. This may involve preparing a medicine without dyes or preservatives, changing a pill into a skin cream or liquid, or changing the taste of a medication.
Compounding pharmacies provide specific medications such as:
- Limited or tailored dosage strengths, such as small dosages required for infants or toddlers or single dosage forms for medicines that require easier administration
- Different formulations for patients who might need a liquid or transdermal gel instead of a hard pill
- Allergen-free medications, such as medicines without gluten, lactose, additives and preservatives, or medicine that doesn’t contain sugar or alcohol
- Drugs that are not commercially available or have been discontinued
- Flavoured additives so that medication tastes like candy or fruit (often required for children or seniors)
- Veterinary medicine that allows dosage changes, different formulation (such as liquid or transdermal gel instead of a pill that can be more easily administered) or additives to ensure the flavour is palatable for an animal
- Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, for personalized needs.
Patients with unique or unusual medication needs are best served by a compounding pharmacy that is dedicated to providing high quality, custom made products. Of course, not all compounding pharmacies are the same, so you need to be sure your pharmacist is well-trained and buys the highest-quality ingredients and equipment (more to follow in our next article on how to choose a compounding pharmacy). The fantastic part of compounding is that your pharmacist can work with your family doctor or veterinarian to recommend a customized solution for you or your pet.
Mesa’s Compounding Pharmacy is a friendly, neighbourhood pharmacy committed to providing prescription compound solutions not offered by commercial medicine, as well as veterinary compound medicines. Contact us today to find out how we can help you by providing the care and support you deserve.