Compounding Pharmacies Explained

Compounding is a type of medication processing that is required for a variety of medical reasons. For example, a patient may need a solid pill changed to liquid form or he or she may be prescribed medication in a specific dose that is no longer manufactured. A patient may also have to circumvent a non-essential ingredient to which he or she is allergic.

A compound pharmacist can also create medications that are no longer mass-produced, but that a doctor still wishes to prescribe. Of course, the latter pertains to drugs that are still regarded as safe by the FDA.

In some instances, a doctor and patient may turn to pharmaceutical compounding to add texture or flavor to a medication in order to make it easier to use. Below are some essential facts about compounding pharmacies:

Compounding Pharmacies Explained

Pharmaceutical compounding is a phrase that describes the mixing of drugs by a licensed pharmacist in order to meet an individual’s specific needs.

Although now it is standard practice to mass-produce medications, this was not always the case. At one time, pharmaceutical compounding was an everyday task among pharmacists. However, modern pharmacists employed by conventional drug stores often have little or no knowledge of compounding techniques.


Prior to World War II, about 60% of all prescriptions were compounded, as opposed to less than 4% as of 2018. Until the 1960s, both mass-produced medications and compounded formulas were available at standard pharmacies. Now, however, compounded drugs must be acquired from a compound pharmacy.

Safety Considerations

The FDA’s position on compounded medications is that they are both ethical and legal, as long as they are prescribed by a doctor or other licensed healthcare practitioner. Such formulas must be obtained from a pharmacist who is employed by a legitimate compound pharmacy. The FDA regulates such pharmacies to ensure that quality control guidelines are met and that each medication is produced in a safe manner. Compound pharmacies are also regulated by their state’s Pharmacy Board.

Finding a Reputable Compound Pharmacy

It is essential to obtain medications from a good compounding pharmacy. If the compounding process is being done in a legitimate fashion, the pharmacist should have no problem providing his or her license information to the client. It is also wise for patients to inquire about the testing standards, raw materials, and quality control practices used by that facility. A patient may also wish to contact a few conventional pharmacies in town for referrals or get in touch with someone at the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board to verify the specific pharmacy he or she is considering.

Last, no one should take medication except under the guidance of a physician, and no one should purchase compounded medications from an establishment that cannot be verified as legitimate.

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