What is a compounding pharmacy?

Your doctor gives you a prescription with special instructions that state, “Fill at a compounding Pharmacy”. What does this mean? What is a compounding pharmacy? Where do I find one of those?

Not all pharmacies compound medication. The American Pharmacists Association estimates there are approximately 7,500 compounding pharmacies in the United States as compared to some 56,000 community/retail pharmacies. To understand what is a compounding pharmacy, it would be helpful to understand what is compounding.

What is Compounding and What are Compounded Medications?

Compounding combines an ageless art with the latest medical knowledge and state-of-the-art technology, allowing specially trained professionals to prepare customized medications to meet each patient’s specific needs. Compounding is fundamental to the profession of pharmacy and was a standard means of providing prescription medications before drugs began to be produced in mass quantities by pharmaceutical manufacturers. The demand for professional compounding has increased as healthcare professionals and patients realize that the limited number of strengths and dosage forms that are commercially available are unable to meet the unique needs of many patients. These patients may have a better response to a customized dosage form that is “just what the doctor ordered”.

Why would I need compounded drugs?

  • unique dosage forms containing the ideal dose of medication for each individual.
  • medications in dosage forms that are not commercially available, such as transdermal gels, troches, “chewies”, and lollipops.
  • medications free of problem-causing excipients such as dyes, sugar, lactose, or alcohol.
  • combinations of various compatible medications into a single dosage form for easier administration and improved compliance.
  • medications that are not commercially available.

How do I find a compounding pharmacy?

Chances are the pharmacy that you frequent does not compound medications. You need to find a pharmacy that specializes in compounding medications to make sure that you are getting the highest quality possible.

The best way to find a quality compounding pharmacy is to google “compounding pharmacy + your city, state”. Find the one with the best and most google reviews. Many compounding pharmacies will be able to ship your medication to you directly so you don’t even have to go find the pharmacy. You can also ask your doctor, whom he/she recommends.

Will my insurance pay for Compounded Drugs?

Many compounding pharmacies do not bill your pharmacy insurance for your compounded medication, so be sure to ask if they do before you give them your prescription.

Many insurances have stopped paying for compounded medications because they are not FDA approved; however, if you find a good compounding pharmacy that are insurance specialists, there are some tricks to get them approved on your insurance.