What is Compounding ?

What is “Prescription Compounding” or “Pharmacy Compounding”? Compounding is the pharmaceutical science of making a medication that is compatible with the needs of an individual patient.

In this day and age most medications are mass produced; that is they are made in bulk by large pharmaceutical companies for thousands of people who at some time may need to have a prescription filled. In many instances mass produced medications will work just fine for a patient has fallen ill. However, in some instances a mass produced medication will not work or be tolerated. Something about the medication is not compatible with a patient’s unique physiological makeup.

Compounding allows a specially trained pharmacist to make a medication and a patient (human or animal) compatible. This is done by taking into consideration the patient's unique needs and symptoms.

A compounding pharmacist uses raw chemicals, powders, liquids, and special equipment to make each medication, one at a time. This results in a customized medication made by a pharmacist, according to a doctor's directions, to meet an individual patient need.We can expand your treatment by formulating creative, individualized, compounded medications that can improve compliance, maximize the potential for therapeutic success, and reduce the overall cost of pharmaceutical care. There are many cases where compounding can benefit the patient.

Compounded medications are necessary when:

  • The patient is a child who cannot take a pill and needs a liquid version of a medication, or a smaller dose than is available through mass manufacturing.
  • The patient cannot tolerate one or more of the components of a manufactured drug (such as preservatives, sugar or gluten).
  • A manufacturer decides to stop making a medication for economic reasons. However, a physician believes that medication is best for his or her patient. In this case, the prescriber may write a prescription for the discontinued drug, and the compounding pharmacist can prepare it by mixing the ingredients into a form of the medication the patient can use.
  • Standard treatments have failed and an alternative is needed.
  • The dosage forms available may be unusable by some patients. (For example, for a patient who cannot swallow, a product that is only available as a tablet can be formulated to be absorbed through the skin, or taken as a suppository.

Commonly compounded medicines include hormone replacement therapy, pain medication for hospice patients and pediatric formulations of a variety of drugs. There are no perfect medications. The medicine or dosage form that works well on one patient for one particular condition may not work well for another patient or a different condition. This is why your physician, dentist, veterinarian or other prescriber, needs options. With each patient and each treatment, the doctor must consider and assess the risks and benefits among all of the alternatives.

Our compounding pharmacy must comply with the regulations set forth by the State Board of Pharmacy. The State Board of Pharmacy sets and enforces regulations for compounding, just as it does for traditional pharmacy. The ingredients used by our pharmacy to make compounds come from FDA-registered and inspected facilities.

We also follow all guidelines set forth by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for compounding including:

  • <795> Pharmaceutical Compounding—Nonsterile Preparations: This chapter provides guidance on applying good compounding practices in the preparation of nonsterile compounded formulations for dispensing and/or administration to humans or animals.
  • <1160> Pharmaceutical Calculations in Prescription Compounding: This chapter provides general guidance and assistance to pharmacists in performing the necessary calculations when preparing or compounding any pharmaceutical drug.
  • <1163> Quality Assurance in Pharmaceutical Compounding: This chapter describes a quality assurance program as a system of steps and actions that must be taken to ensure the maintenance of proper standards in compounded preparations.
  • <1176> Prescription Balances & Volumetric Apparatus: Provides information about acceptable balances and volumetric apparatus (i.e., burets, pipets, cylinders, conical graduates, medicine droppers) used to weigh or measure medicinal and other substances required in prescriptions or in other pharmaceutical compounding.

Do All Pharmacies Specialize in Compounding?

No. Compounding is practiced by pharmacists who have been specially trained in the science of compounding. Compounding requires specialized equipment as well, which many pharmacies do not have.

Western Mass Compounding Center specializes in compounding, and we have been in business for over 13 years. Our pharmacists have received extensive training in compounding techniques and have access to a support network that generates a constant exchange of ideas and innovations.

Western Mass Compounding Center accepts prescriptions from licensed prescribers via the phone, fax (some exceptions may apply), or hard copy. By law, we are not allowed to dispense any compounded medications without an authorized prescription from a licensed prescriber. We would be happy to speak with you regarding questions you may have about compounding or the prescribing process.