“Most providers and patients are caught trying to make themselves fit with the medications that are available. Compounding is unique in that it makes the medication fit you!” – Jonathan Bain, PharmD Owner

Compounding pharmacies are a sub-specialty of regular pharmacies, which is likely what comes to mind when thinking about getting medications. In the same way, compounding pharmacies take prescription orders from providers and put them together for patients. However, the key difference is that compounding pharmacies have more at their disposal. Retail pharmacies order and dispense commercially prepared medications while compounding pharmacies make most of their medications from scratch at their location. This allows for a much more customized medication therapy for patients that need it.

Compounding pharmacies are regulated by the same state boards of pharmacy that retail pharmacies are governed by, but they are also held to higher regulatory standards so you can feel comfortable that you are getting a safe and high quality product. Similarly, compounding pharmacists are fully licensed practitioners preparing the medications using the latest technologies and formulas.

Many benefits exist for compounding pharmacies, a few of the most important will be addressed specifically.

1. Ingredient Manipulation

The main active ingredients from compounded prescriptions will remain the same as those used in commercially available products, however, the other inactive ingredients can be drastically altered. This is significant for people with allergies or intolerances such as lactose, or specific dyes. In a compounding pharmacy many medications can be made without the use of these specific ingredients.

As mentioned, this also pertains to ingredients that have been pulled off of the commercial market. For example, a prescription available commercially for migraines was pulled off the market recently leaving many without the only treatment that worked for their migraines. Compounding pharmacies then began to step up and produce this particular active ingredient product.

Some compounding pharmacies also specialize in the ability to make products more or completely natural. Depending on what the patient is looking for, the ability to provide these therapies in a more natural way is a great service to offer.

2. Medication Cost

Medication cost is significant for everyone even if you have great healthcare insurance coverage. This trend in cost is only going up as newer medications coming out are more and more complex. When you purchase commercial products, this product has already passed through at least 3 entities by the time you are picking it up. This only adds to the cost that you as the patient must incur. Compounding pharmacies make their medications from the raw powders. In most cases, by buying these in bulk they are able to significantly lower the cost of the medications for you as the patient.

Some compounding pharmacies do run medication insurances for possible coverage, but most plans do not cover compounded prescriptions. This has led a lot of compounding centers to run as a cash pay business. Despite being cash pay many prescriptions from a compound pharmacy are still cheaper than copays for similar commercial products.

3. Customized Dosages

Have you ever tried on the same size shirt from two different companies and find that they fit totally differently? For many people these small differences aren’t significant, but for some it can be significant enough that they need an entirely different size shirt. This is the same for medications. Most medications are studied and commercially produced in doses that fit most people. However, sometimes there is a need to provide patients with doses that aren’t commercially available or in dosage forms that aren’t available commercially.

Most people think of taking their medication as a capsule or tablet. Certain medications can be given as a liquid, tablet, capsule, cream to put on your skin, suppository, troche, etc. So depending on the patient and their circumstances, sometimes changing how they are getting the medication can be significant. With extensive experience in changing between these different forms, compound pharmacies are in a great place to really help make the medication fit the needs of the patient.

4. Improved Communication

Pharmacists used to be one of the most accessible and trusted healthcare workers. Now with the demands placed on retail pharmacies it can be difficult to be as accessible for patients and their questions. To do all the things mentioned to this point constant communication with the patient is key for a compounding pharmacist. To find what they prefer and what has or has not worked before is the backbone of producing a good product. Similarly, providers that use compounding pharmacies usually have a very strong professional relationship. Since so many things can be changed and manipulated, providers and compounding centers must be in constant communication. This type of communication can be difficult in a retail setting.

5. Great for the Entire Family

Drug manufacturers spend most of their research and time producing medications designed for adult individuals. Very few medications are made specifically for small children or animals. Even though the medications are the same or similar, the specific doses and forms are very different than commercial products. As described above, with the ability to change doses, dosage forms, and ingredients, compounding pharmacies are the leaders in all medication therapies for veterinary and pediatric patients. Another significant part of medications for these two populations is the importance of flavoring. With access to hundreds of flavors from tutti frutti, strawberry banana, cotton candy, beef, crispy bacon, and marshmallow, finding options to better help these patients take their medication can be the difference in them taking them or not at all.

Unique you

We are all unique individuals with unique needs and desires. Within the currently retail system, providers must give the patient what medications and products are commercially available. Compounding pharmacies allow providers to make the medications fit the patient and their specific needs. Next time you get a medication or are looking over what you are currently taking reach out to a compounding pharmacy and see what options they may be able to offer to you. We all deserve the ability to get the best therapy for us and for those we love.