What Is A Compounding Pharmacy?

Health & Medical Blog

When someone has unique prescription needs, they will need to get their medications prepared in a special pharmacy called a compounding pharmacy. These needs typically include what is not available with commercial prescription drugs, such as needing liquid of a drug that is usually only available in tablets. The pharmacist and pharmacy must be licensed to do compounding, since it is not something everyone in the pharmacy field is trained for. Here is more information about compounding pharmacies and how to find one.

How is the safety regulated?

One of the biggest concerns with compounding medications is whether or not they are safety regulated. Commercially-available prescription medications are done through specific manufacturing processes, where the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines with how they are prepared. The same goes for compounding pharmacies. The FDA regulates pharmacies that prepare compounding medications, being sure they are safe for the patients. They look into the integrity of the drugs, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also makes sure they are handling controlled substances properly.

Compounding pharmacies may not make drugs to sell to individual patients, use commercial manufacturing equipment, copy other FDA-approved drugs, or make a compounding medication without a prescription, except in extremely limited quantities.

Who is in need of compounding medications?

There are a lot of situations where a patient has a special need that commercial drugs can't help them with. Here are just some of the situations where you might need a compounding pharmacy:

  • You can't swallow pills and need medication in a liquid form
  • You need a different formulation than what is currently available
  • You need different dosage strengths, such as a dosage that is smaller than what is commercially available
  • You absorb certain medications at a different pace than the average patient
  • You need special medications, such as one without colored dye or gluten
  • You need a drug that has been discontinued
  • You have a child that prefers their medicines to have flavors added to them

How do I find a compounding pharmacy?

There are two ways to get compounding medications: get them from a special compounding-only pharmacy, or ask your current pharmacy if they offer compounding services. Many larger pharmacies now hire pharmacists specifically because they are licensed in compounding. This is not something every pharmacist is legally able to do, so you need to make sure you ask first. It is always a good idea to ask your current pharmacy first. If they don't offer compounding, they might know of a nearby compounding pharmacy. If you still can't find one local, you may need to order these special medications from an online compounding pharmacy.


9 March 2015

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