Compounding is the process of mixing medications by a pharmacist or physician to meet the unique needs of an individual. The ability to compound medications gives the patient a much wider scope of prescription medication strengths and forms.
- If a patient cannot take oral pain medication, a pharmacist can compound a prescription-strength topical pain cream.
- If a child needs their medication in a sucker, a pharmacist can compound it.
- If a patient is allergic to aspirin, the pharmacist can compound a medication without aspirin.
- If there is a medication that is too strong for a patient, the pharmacist can compound the prescription at lower dosages.
- If a patient is on hormone therapy, the pharmacist can tailor the medication to meet the hormone requirements of the patient.
- When you are prescribed a generic or name-brand drug, the dosage and form are very limited. A compounding pharmacy provides the valuable service to the community of tailoring prescriptions.
“In its traditional form, pharmacy compounding is a vital service that helps many people, including those who are allergic to inactive ingredients in FDA-approved medicines, and others who need medications that are not available commercially”
Kathleen Anderson, Pharm.D, Deputy Director of the Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).
How the Pharmacy Compounding Process Works
A prescription for compounded medication is generated the same way as any other normal (non-compounded) prescriptions, by visiting the doctor. However, a patient never directly receives a prescription for a compounded medication from the physician unless they ask for it. The prescription is faxed directly from the physician’s office to the compounding pharmacy. Upon receiving the prescription, the pharmacy must call the patient to confirm the patient wants the medication and to collect insurance or payment information. For this reason, it is always important for the patient to give the physician the best phone numbers for the pharmacy to reach the patient. After confirmation of the prescription, the medication will be shipped right to the patient’s door. The patient must be present to sign for the medication before it is released. The pharmacy will call the patient again to confirm delivery of the package. At any time a patient can call the pharmacy to check the status of the medication or to contact the pharmacist.