Should You Choose a Compounding Pharmacy? – Pros and Cons

compound pharmacies

When your doctor prescribes medication it should heal your body and bring your health back to where it was before. But even if the medication has proven very effective for other people suffering the same symptoms, not all medications produce the same results in different patients.

Perhaps one of the ingredients in the medications you are taking is producing an adverse side effect. Maybe the way in which the drug is administered isn’t suitable for you. If you find yourself in a situation where the particular formula of medication doesn’t work out as it should, compounding pharmacies could have the answer.

Pharmacy compounding involves the creation of drugs prepared with the individual patient in mind. They follow the prescription provided by the doctor using a formula that allows the pharmacist to remove or alter some of the ingredients.

medicine creatingThe most common types of compounded medications include:

  • Pain management
  • Hormone replacement
  • Skin care

The compounding medications use different ingredients that are combined to the correct strength and dosage prescribed by the doctor. Instead of having to take the standard brand pill and then having to cope with any adverse interactions, this more individualized approach is able to provide better outcomes for patients.


Regular Drugs Compared to Compounded Medicines

One of the big differences between compounded medications and brand or generic drugs is in how they are approved. Brand and generic medications are approved by the FDA in order for them to be sold in pharmacies, but the same isn’t true with compound medicines.

While brand and generic meds have to go through an evaluation process that ensures they are effective and safe, this isn’t the case with compound meds. This means that compound drugs are not approved by the FDA so that their safety, quality, and effectiveness aren’t assured.

prescribingCompound pharmacies are exempt from the federal Current Good Manufacturing Practice rules that other pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to follow. The CGMP regulations mean that the pharmaceutical manufacturers are monitored during design and manufacture to ensure the processes involved in their factories are safe.

Compounding pharmacies operate under either 503A or 503B rules for their facilities. The FDA overseas 503B, and will take action should evidence of a problem medications be discovered. The state boards of pharmacy regulate facilities under 503A regulations, though the FDA will take over should problem medications be found.

Another difference between regular FDA-approved medications and compounded drugs is the labeling. Mainstream pharmaceutical manufacturers need to stick to FDA-approved regulations for the medications they sell, but this isn’t the case with compounded meds.

Labeling on compounded medications is not regulated or even standardized. This has led to unfortunate errors in some cases previously. There have been situations where patients have overdosed on drugs like fentanyl, ketamine, and others due to misunderstandings between the total amount of active ingredients and individual doses.

Besides the benefits and negatives we have already looked at, there are other things you should consider.


Pros and Cons of Pharmacy Compounding

Let’s look at the pros of using a compound in pharmacy first.



Using compounding pharmacy services allows your medication to be exactly what is required. This could mean removing an ingredient that is not suitable for you, adding a flavor to make the pills more palatable, or even recreating a discontinued line of medication.

different size

If your compounding medicines still aren’t quite right, you can go back to the pharmacist and request they make changes. This is particularly important for chronic illnesses where you might be on the medications for many years.

If the medications are for a child, sometimes the pills are too large so that it makes it difficult to swallow them. Compounding can reduce the size of the tablets and also add a pleasant flavor that the child will enjoy. This will encourage the child to take their medication and make the parents task of ensuring they get well all the easier.

The flexibility of this approach likely increases medication adherence and improves patient outcomes.


Just the right dosage

While regular medicines might come in a few dosage options, compounding pharmacies can be more precise. The amount of active ingredients in a tablet can be precisely tailored to optimize efficacy to the exact requirements of the patient.

This can help minimize known side effects, while still providing the health benefits intended to the patient. Under the supervision of a doctor, the amount of active ingredients in the pills can be increased or decreased over time to find the sweet spot that produces the best compromise.


Drug shortages

There have been occasions when certain types of drugs have been in short supply. When something like this happens, regardless of the reason, the compounding pharmacy can step in and produce similar meds to make sure patients are able to continue their treatment.

different colour

This can prevent a patient’s health from deteriorating while their normal medicine is out of reach. It can avoid the patient slipping back in their treatment and having to undergo other forms of treatment because the medicine wasn’t available.

This situation became a particular problem during the pandemic. During this time, some countries limited their exports of many of the vital ingredients required for all kinds of different medicines. On top of this, manufacturing plants may have been operating with less staff, and there could have also been issues with transporting the medicines around the country.

The cons of using a compounding pharmacy should also be considered.



While compounding medicine offers many benefits, you are going to pay for the advantages. Medicine prices are notoriously expensive in the United States already, and compounding doesn’t do anything to reduce these costs.

Pills from compounding pharmacies aren’t always covered by health care plans either. This puts additional pressure on people’s finances if they have to pay out of pocket for a treatment that is more suitable to their unique healthcare requirements.

process of creating

In the past, the cost of ingredients used in compounding medications has increased much faster than the price of regular meds. Added to this, this medicine can take a lot longer to produce than it would to dispense normal pills, and sometimes specialist equipment is required by the pharmacy. All of these factors are reflected in the price customers pay.

If you need compound medications, you can always try looking for cheaper pharmacy options online. However, it can be very difficult to know what a reputable pharmacy is if you aren’t familiar with the regulations and practices drugstores are meant to follow in order to keep patients safe. To avoid this problem, you should check out pharmacy reviews 2021 so you can choose a cheaper and safer option.


Contamination risk

Since the creation of drugs in a compounding pharmacy has to be regulated in a different way to large manufacturing plants, there is a greater risk of contamination. If a pharmacy isn’t staying on top of their sterile standards, patients can suffer.


The FDA has warned compounding pharmacies in the past due to failings in keeping their facilities sterile. And there have been very serious cases of failings that led to the deaths of a lot of people. This includes a fungal meningitis outbreak in 2012 that led to 64 people losing their lives with many hundreds getting sick.


Drug recalls

Sometimes there is a bad batch of active ingredients that require a drug recall, but the nature of compounding medicine means that locating people affected is more difficult. This will make it less likely that patients will hear about the drug recall and realize it affects them.

The unregulated labeling on compounded medications doesn’t help either. This can mean either unreliable or incomplete information about the source of the ingredients, leading to people not realizing they are affected even with better communication about drug recalls.


Not for everyone

While the idea of a compounding pharmacy seems like a great idea, and they can create unique medications to suit people’s needs, it isn’t for everybody. Only if you have a specific special requirement, like an unusual dose requirement or allergy, will the services of a compounding pharmacy make sense.

a child taking medicine

Often using compounding pharmacy services is a better idea for children who have difficulty taking their meds. Paying extra to get medications that have a nice flavor or are easier to take, will be well worth the money for parents struggling with smaller children. Otherwise, the extra costs involved in this type of service may be an extravagance that isn’t really necessary.



If you have been recommended to use a compounding pharmacy, you might have some concerns. But if you are someone who struggles with their medication for whatever reason, using the services of a compounding pharmacy could be a great solution to improve your health.

While there are increased costs when using this type of specialist pharmacy service, you can potentially make some savings if you shop around online.

To make sure you get a reliable pharmacy, you can always do some research. So checking pharmacy reviews 2021 online could help you find a better compounding drugstore. They should help you avoid purchasing your medications from a pharmacy with a bad track record, high costs, bad customer service, or any number of other possible problems.

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