Pharmaceutical Specialty: Compounding Pharmacist

Pharmaceutical Specialty: Compounding Pharmacist

Dating back to 2600 BC, pharmacy’s earliest records in ancient Babylon and Egypt have shown that the duties of a pharmacist pivoted around the creation of medicinal treatment by compounding. Pharmaceutical compounding by FDA definition is, “the combining, mixing, or altering of ingredients to create a customized medication for an individual patient.” (1) This practice can be seen in its most primitive form in 1500 BC, as the ancient Egyptians gathered various herbs and a “chief fabricator” would compound a medication with different plants as ingredients (2). A similar practice of pharmacists extracting and combining active and inactive ingredients continued to be widespread throughout the history of pharmacy until the twentieth century when advanced technology for drug manufacture was created and manufacturing companies began to commercially fabricate drugs (1). By the 1960’s, the majority of pharmacists had become dispensers of medication, no longer the scientists in charge of compounding (1). Although modern-day pharmacy has changed in numerous ways as far as creation of drugs is concerned, compounding is still a vital skill for a pharmacist and compounding pharmacy is a career track that deserves to be explored for its unique patient-centered focus.

The role of a compounding pharmacist is to ensure medications are compounded based on the standards set by the FDA, or Federal Drug Administration. These regulations apply to numerous areas including purity, stability, record keeping, quality, packing and various other practices (1). A quality product is essential when compounding is involved, as the patients who are receiving the compounded medications are usually doing so due to intolerance for a manufactured product, sensitivity to particular medications, or need for specialty medications (3). A compound pharmacist must have suitable references to refer to in order to create a quality product through compounding. In addition, the compounding pharmacist must also work closely with prescribing physicians in order to ensure the patient is being compliant and is receiving the correct form of the medication they need (1).

A compounding pharmacist can truly make a difference in the lives of patients, as they can cater to the needs of each individual and improve patient compliance. These pharmacists can change the taste of a medication, alter the strength, or even formulate a new dosage form for a drug depending on a patient’s preferences and limitations (3). In this way, patients including children, the elderly, end-of-life, and even veterinary can greatly benefit from improved health options (1). There can be a high amount of patient interaction in this particular field of pharmacy depending on the work setting, which is another benefit compounding offers. In addition to making a difference, the problem solving challenges a compounding pharmacists face every day provide a rewarding and not at all monotonous experience.

There are several disadvantages in becoming a compounding pharmacist. A compounding professional will have much competition with retail chains that offer the manufactured drugs that patients have come to expect from pharmacies. In some work settings, such as a hospital, a compounding pharmacist may not have much patient interaction. In addition, the critical thinking and lab skills involved in this profession are not for everyone.

Overall, becoming a compounding pharmacist is a rewarding career path that makes a difference in the lives of a multitude of people. Although technology and drug manufacturers have a monopoly on the drug market today, compounding offers specialized patient attention and customization of drugs that retail pharmacies simply cannot provide. Compounding pharmacists truly put the patient first and attend to his or her limitations and needs.

Works Cited

1. Terrie, Yvette, RPh. "Pharmacy Compounding is Flourishing Again." Pharmacy Times. 6 Nov. 2010. .

2. Bender, George. "History of Pharmacy." WSU College of Pharmacy. 6 Nov. 2010. .

3. "What is Pharmacy Compounding?" International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists. 7 Nov. 2010. .