Are Compounding Pharmacies Still Necessary?

CompoundingTo determine whether there is a need for compounding pharmacies today, one will have to understand what a compounding pharmacy does.

All medications don’t always suit every patient. A compounding pharmacy combines, mixes, or alters medications to tailor fit a patient in situations where, for some reason, a common medication won’t do. Some patients may be allergic to an ingredient in the medication and a compounding pharmacy can alter the medication to eliminate that ingredient. Where a patient, perhaps an elderly person or a small child, may be unable to swallow a pill, a compounding pharmacy can create the medication in liquid form to allow the patient to take the medication more easily. A compounding pharmacist can also add flavoring to a bad-tasting medication, or create a child-size dosage of a medication that’s only manufactured in an adult dosage.They can even make a topical form of a medication, such as a cream or gel, that would allow the medication to be absorbed through the skin. In some cases, where a drug manufacturer may discontinue a drug, a compounding pharmacy may be able to duplicate that medication on a small scale for patients who need to continue taking it.

Below are a few numbers from the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacies (IACP) regarding the compounding industry:

  • The compounding industry now makes up an estimated 1 to 3 percent of the U.S. prescription market, which is $300 billion overall.
  • A national survey of independent pharmacists showed that 76 percent compound medications for patients.
  • Virtually 100 percent of hospitals compound medications.
  • Virtually all home health specialty pharmacies compound.
  • All nuclear pharmacies compound.

It is safe to assume that as long as there are patients who need specially-altered medications and doctors who rely on compounding to formulate a unique combination of medications for those patients, compounding will absolutely be necessary, as will the need for certified compounding pharmacy technician.