Because every patient is different and has different needs, customized medications are a vital part of quality medical care.
Compounding is the art and science of combining, mixing, or altering pure, active ingredients to create customized medications for an individual patient in response to a licensed practitioner’s prescription.
Compounding: The Need
The basis of the profession of pharmacy has always been the “Triad,” the patient-physician-pharmacist relationship. Through this relationship, patient needs are determined and decisions are made about treatment regimens that may include a compounded medication, including but not limited to:
Medications that are Not Commercially Available
Manufacturers have limited product lines due to a variety of economic and chemical restrictions. Therefore, there are limited chemical forms, dosage forms, strengths, flavors and packaging that are available for the physician to prescribe and the pharmacist to dispense. A compounding pharmacy allows the physician to prescribe a custom-tailored medication that is not available commercially.
Medications that are Not Stable
Some pharmaceutical preparations have a limited shelf-life due to chemical instabilities and therefore can’t be mass-produced by pharmaceutical manufacturers. These “short-shelf life” formulations can be compounded by pharmacists who have the ability to produce smaller lots more frequently ensuring stability for the intended patients. Physicians who utilize the services of a compounding pharmacy can prescribe the most appropriate medications for their patients.
Altered Commercially Available Medications
A patient may be allergic to a preservative or dye in a manufactured product. Some patients have difficulty swallowing a capsule and require a troche or lozenge. Many pediatric patients are non-compliant because their medications are bitter, but become compliant when the medication is flavored to their liking. All of these problems can be addressed by a compounding pharmacy. Compounding pharmacists can prepare dye-free or preservative-free dosage form and change the look and taste of a dosage form. This allows physicians to prescribe a commercially available medication in a different dosage form to meet a specific patient need and ensure patient compliance.