4 Myths About the Safety of Compounded Medication

Posted on: 30 August 2017

Compounding medication is the science of preparing personalised drug combinations for patients in controlled environments. It is carried out by licensed pharmacists to offer the best treatment to patients with particular sensitivities who need more customised medication.

Before pharmacies became widespread, all pharmacists were taught drug compounding, and almost all prescriptions were essentially compounded. Today, since there are so many mass produced drugs with different strengths, compounding has become less common. Compounding services are still necessary in a variety of cases though.

This article highlights common myths that make patients avoid drug compounding and what the truth is.

1. Compounding is a form of alternative medicine

Unlike herbal remedies and other alternative treatment therapies, drug compounding uses the same ingredients in conventional medicine, except concentrations are changed according to the patient's required dosage. Any additives, stabilisers, dyes or other ingredients that the patient is sensitive to are replaced. This allows patients that have allergies to certain components to benefit from the helpful active ingredients without suffering the discomfort created by the undesired component.

2. You can't be sure what you'll get

All patients are protected by the pharmacy oversight boards, which are in charge of licensed compounding pharmacies. These drugs can only be made if the patient has a legitimate prescription. Your doctor will direct you to a compounding chemist near you, since compounding isn't carried out at all pharmacies. However, you can be sure that the compounded medications will be made exactly according to your doctor's prescription.

3. Compounded medication is more dangerous

On the contrary, compounded medication is actually safer and more effective for patients than mass-produced formulations. This is because the compounding process accounts for a patient's unique needs and sensitivities, and therefore will not cause the same adverse reactions to undesired ingredients that some patients will have with mass-produced drugs. In addition, the strength of active ingredients can be exactly formulated to prevent over- or under-dosing, thus hastening recovery.

In addition, you cannot get compounded drugs without legitimate prescriptions from licensed physicians. The pharmacist only follows the exact instructions given by your doctor, who studies your symptoms, history and allergies before prescribing your treatment. With your doctor's input, you can get formulations that are both safe and effective.

4. Compounding is more expensive

This isn't exactly a myth. Creating personalised drugs does have a higher cost attached to it. However, this cost should be considered against the potential savings that will come from:

  • not having to buy other medication to alleviate adverse reactions

  • not spending money on more drugs in case the mass-produced formulation isn't effective for you

  • being able to return to productivity faster after treatment because of the higher efficacy of compounded drugs