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The Compounding Process

Think about compounding as a three-step process. It starts when your prescriber makes a diagnosis and ends when the medication is delivered to you or your prescriber.

Step 1: It’s Time to Consider Compounding

Your prescriber has made a diagnosis as part of your ongoing care. Choosing the right medication is crucial part of your treatment. But sometimes:

  • The drug’s manufacturer has discontinued your prescription medicine.

  • You’re allergic to specific preservatives, dyes or binders in mass-produced medications.

  • Your treatment requires a specific dosage (strength) for patients with unique needs such as chemotherapy.

  • Your doctor wants to combine several medications to make medicines easier to take.

In these and other cases, mass produced prescription medicines are not appropriate or available. That’s when it’s time to talk about compounding.  

Step 2: Talk with Your Prescriber About Compounding

Prescription compounding is a fast-growing part of many pharmacy practices. But, your prescriber might not realize the variety of the medications and dosages that are available. Now, it’s time for a conversation about how to get the meds you need.

When your prescriber starts the conversation.

What if your prescriber has a specific compounded medication in mind? He or she will probably know where you can have the prescription filled in a safe, affordable and convenient way.

When you start the conversation.

Sometimes, you realize the need for customized medicines when you’re outside the doctor’s office. That’s the time to ask your prescriber questions like this:

  • I heard about a treatment for a condition like mine. It involves a compounded medication, and I would like to know more. Are you familiar with this compounded medication? Would it help me?

  • My regular pharmacy told me that the drug you prescribed is backordered and unavailable. Can I get it from a compounding pharmacy?

  • I’m my mother’s caregiver. She has a difficult time swallowing the many pills she needs to take. Could a compounding pharmacy combine them into one capsule to make her medicine easier to take?

Your prescriber will give you a prescription just like any other prescription and tell you to find a compounding pharmacy to fill it.

Step 3: Take the Prescription to a Compounding Pharmacy

Finally, you must send or deliver the prescription to a compounding pharmacy. You can deliver it in person. Or, your prescriber can send it via fax, phone or mail.

At the compounding pharmacy, pharmacists will prepare the exact form (pills, a liquid, or an ointment) and strength that are right for you.