Why is there a need for compounding pharmacies? The answer is simple: Commercially manufactured medications aren’t appropriate for everyone. That’s where compounding pharmacists come in. They can create a drug that will achieve the same benefit of a commercially created one, but specifically tailored to the patient.

The name refers to “compounds,” which are formulations of pharmaceutical ingredients that can be customized to a patient’s specific needs. That could involve removing an allergen or adding a flavor. It’s also a way to get the precise dose a patient needs based on height and weight, medical conditions, etc. Even if the medication is right, the available doses may not be ideal for a particular patient.

Compounding pharmacies also give patients access to pharmaceuticals that aren’t readily available.

Providing access to discontinued medications

Pharmaceutical manufacturers sometimes discontinue certain products. If too few patients are using a particular medication, it becomes unprofitable to keep it on the market. But many patients may still may need that medication.

A compounding pharmacist can recreate it through compounding. They can do the same for medications in short supply.

Removing allergens

Many people are allergic to, sensitive to or intolerant of some of the non-active ingredients in commercially available medicine. Many people need to avoid lactose, certain dyes, gluten, casein and sugar, but those ingredients are found in many drugs–prescription and over the counter.

A compounding pharmacist can create a formulation that omits the allergen but is just as effective as the original.

Making medicine more palatable

The best medication in the world isn’t going to help if the patient can’t take it. A compounding pharmacist can add flavors to make the taste more enticing without affecting efficacy. This is especially important for pets and small children.

Sometimes, the compounding pharmacist can provide a different form altogether. For instance, some people have trouble swallowing pills, and crushing the pill is often not an option. Depending on the type of medication, the pharmacist can put it into a liquid form. Or, if the patient doesn’t like the side effects of any oral medication, the pharmacist may be able to put it into a topical cream that bypasses the digestive system altogether.