For as long as there have been illnesses, humans have found various ways of dealing with them. One of the oldest ways to treat a disease that originated before 2000 BC is taking numerous different natural elements and combining them for their medicinal properties.
Unknowingly, ancient Greek civilizations and other cultures started an effective treatment option for their patients compounding pharmaceuticals. Their keen observations that a unique formulation benefits their illnesses gave birth to the modern notion of compounded medications.
Although they couldn’t fully establish why compounding worked so well, they continued to use it even into modern times with compounds like sterile LET. With growing knowledge and studies on patient behavior and the effect of medication on the body, scientists were able to refine this process.
These improvements meant that patients could receive better care from medical professionals and that they take all aspects of their health, including allergies, genetic factors, cultural differences, and personal preferences, into consideration. For a deeper understanding of this, continue reading below for more information on compounding and its benefits:
Why Does Pharmaceutical Compounding Benefit Patient Care?
Because patients and their needs are unique, it would make sense to provide a tailor-made specialized medication, like sterile LET and various other pills, tablets, syrups, or ointments. Unfortunately, standardized medicines that could be problematic for some patients flood the pharmaceutical market.
Doctors realize that there has to be a custom solution for these patients and will thus prescribe compound medications. Some of the common reasons doctors will make this recommendation could include:
- Their patients have allergies or reactions to ingredients in their medication, like preservatives or colorants. An allergic reaction could lead to anaphylaxis, which could cause the patient to have life-threatening complications.
- Pediatric and geriatric patients may have difficulty swallowing and need the medication to be in the form of syrup instead of a capsule, for example.
- Patients may receive medications that aren’t readily available in their area or on the market. Not all pharmacies will stock the same drugs, and some regions or countries may restrict them from being sold over the counter. Sometimes that specific medication is the only solution for the patient to assist them with their illness, and they would need to turn to compound medicine to receive the drug they need.
- Doctors need to adjust the dose of the active ingredients, and no other alternatives are available. Medications usually come in standard quantities, which may not be as beneficial as the specific dose recommended by the doctor.
- Sensory-sensitive patients may need flavoring to ensure they can tolerate the medicine they need to take. Children with autism may not like the taste of their medication and thus refuse to take it. When manufacturers add a flavoring they want, they are more likely to comply with their medicine schedule.
- Some patients may have dietary restrictions, like veganism, and the medication contains animal derivatives. People could also have religious beliefs about animal products, and doctors must accommodate the patient’s wishes.
- In some cases, patients need a specific medication that the manufacturer discontinued, meaning, it is no longer commercially available. If there are no viable alternatives for the patient, doctors will recommend seeking a compounding pharmacy to acquire their much-needed medications.
- Chronic illnesses often have more than one medication that doctors treat the disease with, and combining these into one easy-to-swallow pill is more beneficial for the patient. Combining drugs may also be helpful to geriatric patients that struggle to remember taking the correct dose of each tablet.
- Patients with gastrointestinal challenges may not absorb the active ingredients of the standard version of a medication. The manufacturer can add a different component that the patient’s body will tolerate with compounded medications.
- Hormone replacement therapy may require a specific dose of the hormone that the body lacks, and the patient can get the quantity that will provide the best results through compounding.
- Compounding medications could be less expensive than buying all the individual medicines over the pharmacy counter. Compounding pharmacies can acquire high-quality ingredients at a fraction of the cost manufacturers of regular over-the-counter medications will sell them for in a pharmacy.
The different applications of compound medications could explain why it benefits patients worldwide. Because of this, patients are more able to comply with their treatments while achieving the improvements their doctors hope to see.
Compounding medications can thus help doctors effectively treat and manage their patients’ health problems without finding alternatives to the most efficient drugs that won’t negatively interact with the body. It saves them and their patients from the frustrating process of trying to source the correct medication and perhaps miserably failing in their quest.
How Does Compounding Medications Ensure Patient Benefits?
Now that it is clear why patients need specific medications for their unique needs, the how will form the next important step in the process. Drugs and any other supplements that patients can consume should follow the strict guidelines of their respective regions, along with the guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Facilities that manufacture compounded medications will be subject to these same rules and regulations, meaning that the drugs are generally safe for use if these pharmacies comply. The FDA could also impose inspections and registration upon the manufacturer along with requirements for reporting, among others.
Registered compounding pharmacies will generally follow the guidelines below to ensure that they produce the best quality medications while setting patient safety as a priority:
- A licensed pharmacist will oversee the process and supervise the daily manufacturing. Their invaluable knowledge of the ingredients, their effects on the body, and their interactions will guide the team in making safer compounds.
- No harmful or illegal substances are present in the facility or added to the medications for any reason. It will include medicines on a list from the FDA that bans their use, so manufacturers should see that none of these are even available in the facility.
- Medications are only made-to-order, and no bulk manufacturing of any kind will take place at the facility. Most countries will have laws stipulating how much of a substance one person can carry, restricting the amount the pharmacy can dispense to patients.
- All ingredients meet the standards of the FDA. There may be various suppliers of the same components, but all of them could have variations in their compositions. Compounding pharmacies would thus ensure that they choose suppliers that adhere to the specifications of the FDA so their final products will benefit the receiving patient.
- They only use practices during manufacturing that are approved and legal in their region. A standard and approved method are necessary to ensure that the medications are of the highest standard and that compounding pharmacies don’t use experimental or other harmful techniques during the manufacturing process.
- Compounded medications will not resemble or copy any formulas currently available, and only discontinued drugs would warrant a replica. Not only will this protect other manufacturers of medicines, but it will also protect the patient from receiving compounds discontinued for medical reasons. Medications from years ago didn’t undergo the current testing and risk assessment. Hence, regulatory boards removed some of these from the market for causing more harm than good.
- Personnel won’t combine ingredients or substances that may cause complications for patients. The supervising pharmacist will understand that some components can’t work together without causing an adverse reaction in the patient’s body and will advise the team on the best way to combine different ingredients safely.
- The compounding facility will only make the medication available to the patient and their dispensing pharmacy, and it won’t make it attainable by other pharmacies or third parties. Because compounds are patient-specific, the manufacturer cannot sell them to any other patient. Doing so could cause serious health risks for the patients who receive it.
- All medicine will carry a detailed label with all the relevant information about its ingredients, the strength of these components, what form it is in, and clearly state that it is a compound medication.
In a highly regulated environment like a compounding pharmacy, there is little room for error, although human influence is always possible. With this said, patients should use a reputable pharmacy to order their medication from a manufacturer that follows these stringent rules.
Fortunately, another safety precaution that will benefit patients is that only certified medical doctors can prescribe compound medicine. Without the prescription, patients cannot receive their medications, even if they had in the past.
Although these facilities follow all these formalities and laws, the FDA doesn’t approve compounded medicines supplied to the patient. They may regulate the quality of the ingredients and process, but the final product remains the manufacturer’s responsibility.
Pharmaceutical compounding has myriad benefits for patients and their health, and more doctors realize this daily. Prescribing a standard medication for a unique representation of symptoms could deliver less than optimal results.
Patients can get the treatment they deserve, feel less discouraged, and are more likely to follow through with their treatment when they have a customized solution for their individual needs. Moreover, pharmaceutical compounding is a win-win situation when patients go through the correct avenues to obtain their much-needed medications from a reputable, registered compounding pharmacy.
Thanks to this ancient method of combining what is best for each person, compounded medicines are the answer to many a patient’s (and doctor’s) woes. If this seems like something that will assist you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to discuss it with a local pharmacist or doctor so they can provide even more information on this fascinating way of treating disease.