Health Canada has stated that compounded prescriptions are both ethical and legal as long as they are prescribed by a licensed practitioner for a specific patient and compounded by a licensed pharmacy. In addition, compounding is regulated by provincial boards of pharmacy.
Pharmacy compounding is a long-established tradition that offers customized care to meet the specific needs of individual patients.
Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing customized medications for patients. Its practice dates back to the origins of pharmacy, although compounding’s presence in the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, the majority of prescriptions were compounded. With the advent of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s, compounding declined as the pharmacist’s role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms. However, this “one-size-fits-all” approach to medication meant that some patients’ needs were not being met.
Within the last few decades, however, compounding has experienced a renaissance as modern technology and innovative techniques and research have allowed more pharmacists to customize medications to meet a patient’s unique needs.There are several reasons why prescribers and pharmacists provide compounded medications for patients. The primary reason for compounding is to avoid patient non-compliance, which means the patient is either unable or unwilling to use the medication as directed. Many patients are allergic to preservatives or dyes, or require a dosage that is different from the standard drug strengths.
Some insurance plans allow the patient to be reimbursed by sending in claim forms. While you may be paying a pharmacy directly for a compounded prescription, many insurance plans may cover the final cost.
With a physician’s consent, a compounding pharmacist can:
- Adjust the strength of a medication
- Avoid unwanted ingredients, such as dyes, preservative, lactose, gluten, or sugar.
- Add flavor to make the medication more palatable
- Prepare medications using unique delivery systems. For patients who find it difficult to swallow a capsule, a compounding pharmacist may prepare the drug as a flavored liquid suspension instead. Other medication forms include topical gels or creams that can be absorbed through the skin, suppositories, sublingual troches, or even lollipops.
Compounding applications can include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Pain management
- Otic (for the ear)
- Medication flavoring
- Sports medicine
- Wound therapy
- And many more!