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What is compounded medications?

You may have heard someone mention before and asked yourself, “what is compounded medications?” Simply,  compounded medications is the art and science of preparing customized medications for patients.

Compounded medications dates back to the origins of pharmacy, although compounding’s presence in the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of prescriptions were compounded. With the advent of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s, compounding declined as the pharmacist’s role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms. However, this “one-size-fits-all” approach to medication meant that some patients’ needs were not being met.

Within the last few decades, however, compounding has experienced a renaissance as modern technology and innovative techniques and research have allowed more pharmacists to customize medications to meet a patient’s unique needs.

How does compounded medications benefit me?
There are several reasons why prescribers and pharmacists provide compounded medications for patients. The primary reason for compounding is to avoid patient non-compliance, which means the patient is either unable or unwilling to use the medication as directed. Many patients are allergic to preservatives or dyes, or require a dosage that is different from the standard drug strengths.

With a physician’s consent, a compounding pharmacist can:

Adjust the strength of a medication
Avoid unwanted ingredients, such as dyes, preservative, lactose, gluten, or sugar.
Add flavor to make the medication more palatable
Prepare medications using unique delivery systems. For patients who find it difficult to swallow a capsule, a compounding pharmacist may prepare the drug as a flavored liquid suspension instead. Other medication forms include topical gels or creams that can be absorbed through the skin, suppositories, sublingual troches, or even lollipops.

Can my child – or my elderly parent – take compounded medications?
Yes! Children and the elderly are often the types of patients who benefit most from compounding. It is common for parents to have a tough time getting their children to take medicine because of the taste. A compounding pharmacist can work directly with the physician and the patient to select a flavoring agent, such as bubblegum, grape, tutti frutti, or vanilla butternut, which provides both an appropriate match for the medication’s properties and the patient’s taste preferences. Just think – no more wasting medicine when a cranky patient spits it out!

Compounding pharmacists also can help patients who experience chronic pain. For example, some arthritic patients cannot take certain medications due to gastrointestinal side effects. With a healthcare practitioner’s prescription, a compounding pharmacist may be able to provide these patients’ anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving medications with topical preparations that can be absorbed through the skin. Compounded prescriptions frequently are used to ease pain, nausea, and other symptoms for hospice patients as well.

Is compounded medications legal? Is it safe?
Health Canada has stated that compounded prescriptions are both ethical and legal as long as they are prescribed by a licensed practitioner for a specific patient and compounded by a licensed pharmacy. In addition, compounding is regulated by provincial boards of pharmacy.

Will my insurance cover compounded medications?
You’ll be surprised that many third party insurance plans cover a good portion of compounded medications. Here at the Organic Compounding Pharmacy we take the extra step in submitting the claims for you and trying to save you as much money as possible.

What kinds of prescriptions can be compounded?
Almost any kind! Compounded prescriptions are ideal for any patient requiring unique dosages and/or delivery devices.

Compounding applications can include:

  • Bioidentical Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Pediatrics
  • Pain management
  • Weight Loss
  • Dentistry
  • Otic (for the ear)
  • Dermatology
  • Veterinary
  • Sports medicine
  • Infertility
  • Wound therapy
  • Hair Loss treatment
  • Vitamin Injections
  • And many more!

So now that you don’t have to ask yourself “what is compounding”, ask your healthcare practitioner or pharmacist today about the benefits of personalized prescription compounding.

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