What is Compounding?
Compounding is a practice in pharmacy that specialises in creating medicines from scratch by mixing various ingredients together. Before mass production of medications became normal, compounding was a routine activity among pharmacists. Community pharmacists who have experience with compounding techniques are now less common. Today, barely 1% of all drugs prescribed to patients are compounded. However, the number of compounding pharmacies has been undergoing a resurgence recently.
History of Compounding
Compounding in the 1800s
The art of pharmaceutical compounding has ancient roots. Hunter-gatherer societies had some knowledge of the medicinal properties of the animals, plants, molds, fungus and bacteria as well as inorganic minerals within their environment. Ancient civilisations utilised pharmaceutical compounding for religion, grooming, keeping the healthy well, treating the ill and preparing the dead. These ancient compounders produced the first oils from plants and animals. They discovered poisons and the antidotes. They made ointments for wounded patients as well as perfumes for customers.
The modern age of pharmacy compounding began in the 19th century with the isolation of various compounds from coal tar for the purpose of producing synthetic dyes. During the 1800s, pharmacists specialised in the raising, preparation and compounding of crude drugs. Crude drugs, like opium, are from natural sources and usually contain multiple chemical compounds. The compounding pharmacist often extracted these crude drugs using water or alcohol to form extracts, concoctions and decoctions.
With the isolation of medications from the “raw materials” or crude drugs came the birth of the modern pharmaceutical company. Pharmacists were trained to compound the preparations made by the drug companies, but they were unable to do it efficiently on a small scale. So economies of scale, not lack of skill or knowledge, produced a market for the modern pharmaceutical drug companies.
The Modern Compounding Pharmacy
Today, compounding pharmacists still supply customised drugs to patients whose needs are not met by commercially available drugs. However, they compose only the minority. Things are expected to change though as movements to provide tailored medications to patients with unusual needs veer towards compounding pharmacy.
Compounding pharmacies are the only sources of unique drug preparations that are needed by patients with special pharmaceutical needs. When a patient’s treatment depends on a change of dosage, requires different drug formulation and alternative mode of administration, requires a drug that was discontinued years ago, the only ones who can truly provide special formulations are the compounding pharmacies.
Compounding pharmacies are also called on to provide medications for patients who have sensitivities to available drugs and for those who need alternative flavour.
Compounding For Everyone
There are many advantages to compounding medications for general and specific applications. Sometimes the dosage form a medicine comes in can be difficult for our bodies to process. A child may have a hard time swallowing bad tasting medicine or elderly patients may have trouble swallowing large pills. In these instances, compounding can be a simple and clever solution.
Compounding for Men
Hormone replacement is one of the most commonly requested applications for compounding. Since hormone levels are unique to you, your prescription should be too.
Compounding for Women
Women often have a unique mix prescribed for regulating hormones due to menopause or other imbalances. Compounding that mix allows for a customised absorption to get you the best results.
Compounding for Children
Compounding can turn medicine into candy for young patients. Gummies, lollipops and other clever solutions can make prescription medicine bearable for children of all ages.
Compounding for Geriatrics
Many people associate getting older with taking a lot of pills, but in reality compounding can fix that! Replacing hard to swallow and difficult to digest pills with tinctures or creams can help make sure your body receives and processes the medicine as prescribed.
Common Compounding Applications
With the development of sophisticated bases, there is really no end to what can be achieved through compounding. Many fields of medicine can be positively impacted by adopting compounded medications.
Compounding for Dentistry
Dry socket pastes and long lasting pain relief can be compounded for direct application, aiding dental patients in recovering from dental procedures
Compounding for Podiatry
Podiatry has long been greatly benefited by compounded medications, allowing patients and doctors to get medication directly to the point of interest through medicated creams and other topical application compounds.
Compounding for Endocrinology
Thyroid issues and other hormone imbalances often need to be treated with very specific medication mixtures. Compounding allows these to be personalised for your specific needs.
Compounding for Auto-Immune
There are a lot of applications for compounding for delivering low dosage medications to treat specific kinds of autoimmune conditions. See your doctor for more details.
Compounding for Dermatology
When over the counter skin care products just aren’t enough, compounding comes to the rescue to formulate medicine grade ingredients into something that is easy to directly apply to the area of concern.
If you think you may benefit from compounded medications, schedule a consultation with a pharmacist or speak to your prescribing physician.
If you have a prescription for a medication you would like compounded, begin your order process online here.