Compounding pharmacies are authorized to create specific doses of medication based on the advice and guidance of a doctor to meet patient needs. Instead of being forced to go to a drug manufacturer, the compounding pharmacy can create the needed medications independently so that distribution takes less time and patients have better access to the medicines that they need.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this service? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a compounding pharmacy.
The Pros of a Compounding Pharmacy
1. The medications are often much cheaper for patients.
Compounding pharmacies charge much less for the medications that they create for patients because they are creating specific doses. This lets patients be able to have the specific prescription they need for improved health without decimating their budget to get it.
2. It gives patients access to discontinued medication.
Some drug manufacturers will stop mass producing medication because there isn’t a large enough need to make it profitable for them. That doesn’t mean the drug isn’t still needed, so the compounding pharmacy is able to step in and create the drug when needed. This means even if only 1 person on the entire planet needed a discontinued medication, they’d still be able to receive it.
3. Compounding pharmacies can make hypo-allergenic medications.
For those with specific health needs, such as needing a soybean-free capsule or a gluten-free tablet, compounding pharmacies are able to create drugs that don’t trigger allergies or intolerance problems. Personalized formulas become easier to make and the end result is a better overall level of health.
4. Bad flavors can be eliminated.
Children struggle to take certain medications because they taste so bad. Instead of parents holding down their child and popping the medication in to force it down, compounding pharmacies can create better tasting formulas that make the medication easier to accept. Size is also able to be adjusted here, making large pills smaller so they’re easier to take.
5. A different type of medication can be created.
Some people struggle to take pills. Others aspirate liquids. A compounding pharmacy can actually alter the structure of the medication so that pills can be put into a liquid suspension or liquids can be put into a pill or capsule form.
The Cons of a Compounding Pharmacy
1. There is a higher risk of contamination.
Compounding pharmacies are regulated a little differently than drug manufacturers are, which means there is a higher risk of medication contamination that may occur. Sterility is a major concern with these pharmacies and the FDA has warned several of them to improve their practices after a 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people and made more than 700 people sick. 90% of the inspections that have occurred since 10/2012 have resulted in objectionable conditions.
2. Not everyone needs their services.
Compound prescriptions tend to be the most beneficial when children or someone with a specific health needs must have a unique dosing plan that is beyond what standard production lines provide. If a patient needs 0.75mg of an item, but it only comes in 0.5mg or 1g doses, then the compounding pharmacy makes it easier to take the medication because the needed dose can be provided.
3. They aren’t always covered by healthcare insurance.
Compounding pharmacies are generally able to lower the cost of the needed drugs, but they aren’t always covered by a healthcare insurance plan. This means that patients may need to pay more for their medications than they would if they were only paying for a co-pay, even with the cheaper costs.
4. It can be difficult to track drug recalls.
Because the medications are individually made for specific doses or because medications are rare, patients may not realize that what they’ve received has been recalled. Even with improved communication over the internet and other methods that are available, not everyone realizes that the medication came from a contaminated source because the labels are not always clear on the matter.
Are Compound Pharmacies An Integral Part Of The Modern Healthcare System?
If drug manufacturers stop making medications because it isn’t profitable for them, where do people turn? Without compound pharmacies, lives could be quickly placed at risk. Compound pharmacies that aren’t properly regulated may also put lives at risk. By weighing these pros and cons, each person can decide for themselves if taking medication from such a location is worth any potential risk.