What is Compound Medicine?

Compound Medicine (or Compounding) is the process of combining, mixing, or altering two or more ingredients in the exact strength and dosage needed to make a new medication. This medication is created specifically for the needs of an individual patient. These compounds are formulated by a licensed pharmacist skilled in the art and science of creating these individualized medications. 

Compound Medicine is used to customize strength or dosage, reformulate a drug to remove unwanted ingredients, or to change the form of a drug (from a pill to a cream or gel) to make it easier to take or more effective in helping to treat the patient’s symptoms. When you need a medication to help alleviate your specific symptoms, a compounded formula can give you the individualized treatment you need.

What is a Compounding Pharmacy?

While many pharmacies may offer some level of compounding, a pharmacy specializing in compounding has made the investment in the equipment and training to safely and effectively create these medications for their patients. Only a fraction of the approximately 55,000 community based pharmacies in the United States specialize in compounding.  

Compounding can include ointments, creams, liquids, gels, capsules, or injections. The type of compound will depend on the formulation of ingredients and the intent of delivering the medication to best suit the patient’s needs.

History of Compound Medicine

The art and science of compounding medications can be traced to the origins of pharmacy itself dating back to the Mesopotamians around 3500 BC. However, it is Galen (129-216 AD) in Greece who is credited with the founding of compounding. The modern age of pharmacy compounding began in the 1800s where pharmacists specialized in compounding crude drugs.

Crude drugs come from natural sources and usually contain several chemical compounds. Pharmacists began to isolate these chemical compounds from the crude drugs by extracting them with solvents like water and alcohol. This led to separating the active ingredients and creating chemical compounds.  

It was commonplace for physicians to prescribe and compound a patient’s medications. A clear distinction between physician and pharmacist didn’t occur until the late 1800s.

Throughout history, compounding medications continued as a way to give a patient the individualized treatment they needed when standard medications would not suffice.

In the early 1900s, many of the medications used around the world were the result of pharmaceutical compounding. It wasn’t until the advent of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s that the prevalence of drug compounding began to diminish.

Today, drug compounding remains an integral part of a patient’s care and well being. As drug manufacturers continue to mass market medications, they don’t always provide the right ingredients or dosages needed to treat an individual patient with a unique set of symptoms or conditions.

Compounding Pharmacy Safety

On a state level, individual state boards regulate compounding pharmacies. In addition, a separate state license is required for each state a compounding pharmacy operates in or ships medications to their patients.

A pharmacy that engages in compounding adheres to all applicable standards and regulations for the types of preparations that are compounded. On a federal level, the FDA has oversight over the manufacturing of compounded medications and the DEA has oversight over any controlled substances that are present in compounds.

The United States Pharmacopeial (USP) Convention issues the standards that apply to drug compounding. USP defines the chemical purity of drugs and develops the standards for the identity, quality, strength, and purity of medicines, dietary supplements, and food ingredients that may be used in compounding preparations.

At National Specialty Pharmacy, we meet or exceed all state and federal requirements for safety and integrity. We also adhere to USP’s strict standards, ensuring our compounds are safe and effective for our patients.

Benefits of Compound Medicine

Think of compounding as a medication that is made specifically for you. It’s been designed in such a way that it can help to treat your specific symptoms and provide the correct dosage of its ingredients just for you.

Compounding removes the nonessential ingredients in mass marketed drugs that may cause allergic reactions for an individual patient. Compounding also enables the pharmacy to make the exact dosage strength and amount required to be effective for an individual patient.

When a medication is discontinued or there is a shortage of brand-name medications, compounding can fill that void so patients can still receive a proper level of care when traditional medications cannot.

Compounding also allows a patient to take a medication in a different form that is easier or more effective for them. Instead of pill form that may be difficult to take or require additional nonessential ingredients to manufacture, that same medication can be compounded into a cream or gel. This makes targeting affected areas much easier and can initiate relief more effectively.

This is why a compounding pharmacy is so important to a patient’s care. They can provide the exact medications needed for an individual patient, giving them a level of care and attention that a mass produced drug just cannot accomplish.  

At National Specialty Pharmacy, your health is our specialty. We are dedicated to providing you with the proper care and treatment you deserve to help improve the quality of your life.