What is Compounding?

In historic times, apothecaries and pharmacists produced medications designed for each patient, using the best materials at hand at that time. Since the 1950s, pharmaceutical companies found economic benefit in creating mass-produced medications to treat a variety of illnesses. Pharmacists began to lose the knowledge of compounding as drugs came in pre-packaged bottles and shrink packs. Now pharmaceutical compounding has come full-circle, as physicians and pharmacists re-discover the art and science of drug compounding.

Compounding is the science of taking prescribed drugs and mixing them in ways that make them more effective or easier for a patient to take. Some pain relievers work better if applied to the location of the pain, so a compounding pharmacist might use the pain reliever in a cream, lotion, or gel. People may be familiar with nicotine patches to help stop smoking — this is also a delivery mode for pain relief or other drugs.

For children, the drugs might be formulated into a good-tasting liquid, lozenge, or even a lollipop. For patients who have trouble swallowing, the topical applications are one option, but the drugs can also be administered through nasal sprays or suppositories. Even domestic and zoo animals can benefit from compounding, as drugs can be mixed with tastes that the animal desires, such as fish for cats or meat for dogs. This is different from simply hiding a pill inside a lump of tuna for a cat; cats are notorious for finding the drug and spitting it out.

Another advantage of compounding is the ability to keep undesirable materials out of the drug delivery system. Commercial drugs may contain sugars detrimental to diabetics. People with gluten allergies can be exposed to commercial drugs containing starch fillers. Many pills contain dyes and pigments that can cause problems for patients with sensitivities. All of these can be eliminated from compounded medications, so the drugs end up being purer with less side effects for patients.

Slater Pharmacy would be happy to provide drug compounding to help you regain your health. Talk with your health professional, and if they agree that a prescription drug would be best offered as a compounded material, please contact us for assistance or if you have any questions.