What is a Compounding Pharmacy and How Does it Benefit the Individual Patient?

Jennye Morano, Director of Marketing, Hoye’s Pharmacy, A PCAB-Accredited Pharmacy,
The idiom, “before we can know where we are going, we must know from where we came” has been a part of common lexicon for many years. It has never been truer for the Compounding Pharmacy industry, which has seen a renaissance in the last 10 years, as physicians and other healthcare practitioners return to a focus on patient-specific medicine.

The art of pharmacy compounding has been around since before 1000 A.D., with the first drugstore recorded as having opened in 754 A.D. in Baghdad 1. Since that time, compounding has continued to not only evolve, but remain relevant throughout medical history. During the Middle Ages, priests and doctors began combining different substances to make elixirs and potions attempting to cure the ailments of their time. In the 17th century, “farmacies” cropped up in France and “pharmacopeias” in England, which offered a myriad of current approaches to chemist-based pharmacy, thus bringing into modern life the neighborhood pharmacist.

Pharmacy continued in this vein until the Industrial Revolution began and the term “economies of scale” became peppered into the pharmaceutical vocabulary as the demand for prescription drugs grew. However, in 1940, popular estimates still had 50% of all prescriptions as having been compounded. As pharmaceutical manufacturing grew, proprietary/manufactured medication became more of the norm.

In recent years, the demand for individualized, quality-controlled compounding has increased with the focus of medicine returning to the needs of the individual patient, as opposed to the “one-size fits all” or “cookie cutter” model.

Manufactured/proprietary medications are designed to match the patient to the drug, while in compounding the drug is prepared to match the single, individual patient need. Although proprietary medications can meet the needs of many patients, there is still a need for customized medication for individual patients on occasion. Some of the more common reasons to turn to compounding as the solution are:

  • The patient has allergies, which require an allergy-free medication
  • The patient requires a reduced dosage-strength of medication due to body size/weight not commercially available.
  • The patient needs a medication that has been discontinued by the pharmaceutical manufacturer or is on back-order.
  • The patient requires a unique or different dosage form from a manufactured pharmaceutical (i.e. the patient cannot swallow pills and needs the medication in a liquid or topical form).

This individualized approach to treatment, however, is only possible with what is known as the Triad of Care. The Triad of Care is a unique relationship between each individual patient, their physician and their pharmacist recognizing that some patients have medication needs as unique as their own fingerprints and as such may not be available on the market.

So how can compounding benefit you? Simply look at the ends of your fingers and think about how customized medications could be made solely with you in mind.