What Is Compounding?
According to PCCA (Professional Compounding Centers of America), “Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing personalized medications for patients.” Patients sometime require individualized dosing based on patient-specific parameters such as age, weight, ability to use certain dosage forms, allergies, etc. Thus, compounding pharmacies are to fill prescriptions to the exact specifications prescribed by the doctor. Medication compounding often consists of preparing medications in specific strengths, dosage forms, or in combinations that aren’t commercially available, allowing patients to get individualized care based on his or her specific needs.
Is It Safe?
Compounding pharmacies (and most pharmacies in general) are required to meet and maintain standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and are mandated by law in most states. Although compounded medications are not FDA-approved, the FDA does has authority over some aspects of pharmacy compounding, although state boards of pharmacy generally have primary responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of compounding pharmacies licensed in that state. Even greater oversight is obtained through accreditation from a variety of agencies that set up guidelines designed to improve quality and safety in medication compounding.
Is It Expensive?
Fewer insurance companies are continuing to cover prescription costs of compounded medications. As a result, patients are being forced to either pay cash or do without their much-needed compounded medications. Although some insurance companies refuse to pay pharmacies directly for compounding services, some will allow the patient to file a paper claim and receive reimbursement directly from their insurance for their out-of-pocket expenses. Pricing will vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, and while compounding may seem to be more expensive up front, consider the long-term benefits of taking no more or less medication than you absolutely need, no longer being exposed to harmful allergens and toxins, reducing your total number of pills taken, and having access to medications, strengths, and dosage forms not otherwise accessible due to commercial unavailability.
What Can Be Compounded?
Some common compounds include:
- Dosage form changes (e.g. solid to liquid, solid to topical)
- Combining different medications
- Medication Flavoring
- Bioidentical Hormones
- Topical Pain Creams
- Veterinary Prescriptions
- Anti-Age and Scar Treatment