Frequently Asked Questions about Compounding

Q: What is compounding and how does it benefit me?
Q: Can my child (or elderly parent) take compounded medication?
Q: What kinds of prescriptions can be compounded?
Q: Will my insurance cover compounded medications?
Q: Is Compounding Expensive?
Q: Is Compounding legal? Is it Safe?
Q: Does my doctor know about compounding?
Q: Is custom compounding right for me?

Q: What is compounding?

Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medication for patients. Its practice dates back to the origins of the pharmacy; yet, compounding's presence throughout the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, approximately 60 percent of all medications were compounded. With the advent of drug manufacturing in the 1950s and 60s, compounding rapidly declined. The pharmacist's role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms. Within the last two decades, though, compounding has experienced a resurgence, as modern technology and innovative techniques and research have allowed more compounding pharmacies to customize medications to meet specific patient needs. Today, an estimated one percent of all prescriptions are compounded daily by pharmacists working closely with physicians and their patients.

Q: How does compounding benefit me?

There are several reasons why pharmacists compound prescription medications. The most important one is what the medical community calls "patient non-compliance." Many patients are allergic to preservatives or dyes, or are sensitive to standard drug strengths. With a physician's consent, a compounding pharmacists can change the strength of a medication, alter its form to make it easier for the patient to ingest, or add flavor to make it more palatable. The pharmacist also can prepare the medication using several unique delivery systems, such as sublingual troche or lozenge, a lollipop, or a transdermal gel. Or, for those patients who are having a difficult time swallowing a capsule, a compounding pharmacy can make a suspension instead.