3 Differences Between Compounding & Retail Pharmacies
Pharmacies are where you go to get your medicine, right?
It really depends on the TYPE of medication you need.
There are cases where a retail pharmacy may be best. But there are also plenty of instances where compounding may be a better option.
While both compounding pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturing share similarities, the processes involved are not the same. In fact, the two share more differences than similarities.
A compounding pharmacy creates custom medications from base ingredients for patients.
Rather than providing a pre-mixed formula, the compounding pharmacist begins with base drugs, combining and preparing them to fit the individual patient’s needs.
Because the pharmacist works with base ingredients, the dosage can be adjusted in very small ratios, rather than simply going with the closest commercially available option.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing creates drugs in pre-set formulas and dosages on an industrial scale. This amounts to millions of doses and formulas per year. This mass scale manufacturing leaves little room for customization for patients with special needs.
Impact of the FDA on Compounding
Before the FDA was created, compounding was the only method used to create medications for patients.
Pharmacies were referred to as apothecaries.
The pharmacist would assess the patient and take recommendations from the doctor before returning to the apothecary to hand-create a precise formula for the patient.
The fact that some compounding pharmacies lack FDA approval could worry some potential patients. However, this lack of the FDA’s blessing hardly means the pharmacies are untrustworthy or unreliable.
Compounded medications are absolutely safe!
Registered, licensed compounding pharmacies have oversight from state licensing boards.
This ensures that the pharmacy works with safe substances, using empirical evidence and reliable methods for each and every medication created.
How Compounded Medications Are Made
The medications used in compounding formulas, when broken down, are virtually identical from a chemical perspective. The only real difference is that compounding pharmacies combine the ingredients in-house to meet the individual patient’s needs.
Patients require a prescription for all compounded medications, just as they do for retail pharmaceutical prescriptions.
3 Big Differences Between Compounding & Retail Pharmacies:
1. Customized Dosages
Some individuals may require a dosage of a medication that is not commercially available.
Unlike a retail pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy can create the perfect dose for your medical condition, as well as your height, weight, gender, and age.
This precise dosage is more likely to decrease the occurrence of side effects from the medication while treating your condition in the most effective manner possible.
2. Different Forms of the Same Medication
When you use a compounding pharmacy, you can choose the form your medication comes in, including liquid, powder, capsule, cream, or ointment.
When you can choose the method you use to take your medication, you are much less likely to suffer side effects.
For example, some do not like the side effects which result from oral medications, preferring a topical cream which bypasses the digestive tract, prior to entering the bloodstream.
3. Specialty Medications
If you need a custom prescription filled for your eyes, skin, child or even a pet, a compounding pharmacy is probably your best bet.
Compounding pharmacists specialize in finding ways to customize medications so they can be best applied or even “hidden” in food or drink.
If you’ve got a finicky child or pet, you know what we mean!
Compounding pharmacists create specialty formulas for:
- Hormone therapy
- Pain management
- Sports medicine
- Animal/Veterinary Medicine