Some medications are not commercially available. If a doctor or other medical provider wants a patient to take a medication that is not commercially available, they will send the prescription to a compounding pharmacy. In that pharmacy, a state-licensed pharmacist combines ingredients to create the medication. This medication is called a compounded medication. Compounding services are most often used by patients with unique medical concerns that commercially available medications do not address.
Compounding is a specific process by which a pharmacist prepares customized medications. Compounds may treat unique healthcare needs when no commercially available medication can adequately address those needs. Compounded medicines are a little different. Because we formulate and prepare each prescription to the patient’s individual needs at the time of order, the process to fill/make each prescription varies. It typically takes one to two business days to prepare refills and new fills of non-emergent compounds. We understand some compounded medications are medical priorities and place a priority on those when needed.
The practice of pharmacy compounding is important to public health as an alternative for patients who require medication that is not commercially available or not available due to drug shortages. Other than in the case of drug shortages, compounding does not include making copies of commercially available drug products, as this is not allowed by law. Patients require a prescription for all compounded medications, just as they do for retail pharmaceutical prescriptions. Compared to manufacturing, where medications are mass-produced for millions of patients who share a single symptom or condition, compounding follows a triad of one doctor, one pharmacist, and one patient.
Depending on your insurance plan, compounded medications may be covered by insurance. We will always try to bill insurance for compounded medications. If an insurance plan does not cover a compounded medication, we will review pricing options with you before the compounded medication is prepared. Many insurance companies will reimburse for compounded prescriptions; however, we suggest that you consult with your insurance provider for benefits. Our insurance billing technicians will always attempt to bill your plan for any compounded medication and communicate pricing options with you before a compound is prepared.
Doctors prescribe compounded medications for many reasons. For example, some patients have difficulty swallowing large capsules or pills. The doctor may request the pharmacist to create a liquid or transdermal form of the medication. Some medications can contain ingredients that a patient is allergic or sensitive to. The physician can request the pharmacist to create the medication without those ingredients.
Compounding pharmacists can put drugs into specially flavored liquids, topical creams, transdermal gels, suppositories, or other dosage forms suitable for patients’ unique needs. Delivery vehicles that are often used for compounding include:
- Creams, gels & ointments
- Oral solutions & suspensions
- Tablets & capsules
- Lollipops & lozenges
- Pet medications
A health care provider should only prescribe a compounded medication when a commercially medication does not meet your needs. If you do not understand why you have been prescribed a unique formulation, ask your prescriber. If you are concerned about taking a compounded drug, or you and your prescriber agree that you can tolerate the commercially available drug, a compounded medication may not be suitable for you.
Reach out today to one of our compounding pharmacists if compounding might be right for you or if you’d like to learn more! http://www.malleyspharmacy.com