When it comes to managing our health, there are times when traditional medications don’t provide the right fit for our specific needs. That’s where compounded medication comes in, providing customised solutions for pain management and skin care. But not all compounding pharmacies are created equal, and choosing the right one is essential to ensure quality, safety, and effectiveness.
This blog outlines essential factors to consider when choosing a compounding pharmacy. Whether you’re looking for a pharmacy that offers personalised service, uses high-quality ingredients, or has a reputation for excellence, we’ll help you find the right pharmacy to meet your needs.
What is a compounding pharmacy, and how does it differs from a dispensary?
A compounding pharmacy can create medications that are not available in traditional pharmacies. They can adjust the dosage or strength of drugs, remove allergens or irritants, and create medications such as creams, ointments, gels, capsules, suppositories, and even flavoured liquids to make it easier for the patient to consume than pre-made medication available. They can also prepare medications that are not commercially available, such as veterinary medications or medications for rare diseases.
In contrast, traditional dispensaries generally only stock commercially available medications manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. They cannot adjust the medication dosage or form to meet each patient’s needs.
A compounding pharmacy typically also provides personalised care to patients. It works closely with healthcare providers to ensure that each medication meets the patient’s needs and offers consultations and guidance on using and storing medicines properly. With that said, here’s how to choose a compounding pharmacy.
Accreditation indicates that the pharmacy has met strict quality standards set by reputable organisations such as the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB). Accreditation ensures that the pharmacy has implemented proper safety procedures, staff training, equipment maintenance, and quality control measures to ensure their compound medications are safe and effective.
Look for a pharmacy that has been in business for a while and has a proven track record of providing high-quality compounded medications. An experienced pharmacy will typically understand the intricacies of compounding and the knowledge and skills needed to create customised medications. In addition, an experienced pharmacy will have a solid reputation in the industry, with a network of trusted suppliers and a history of delivering excellent customer service.
It’s crucial to ensure that the pharmacy has the medication you need in stock and can deliver it to you in a reliable and timely manner. You want to receive the required medication on time, especially if it’s urgent. Thus, before choosing a compounding pharmacy, check their inventory and delivery options to ensure they have the medication you need and can provide it promptly.
Communication. You want to ensure that the pharmacy can communicate with you about your medication, including any potential side effects, instructions for use, and other important information. A pharmacy willing to answer questions and provide personalised attention can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your medications.
Reviews provide insights into the experiences of other patients who have used the pharmacy’s services, which can help you make an informed decision. Here are some tips on how to check online reviews for a compounding pharmacy:
- Look for reviews on the pharmacy’s website and third-party review sites like Google, Facebook, etc.
- Focus on more than just the overall rating of the pharmacy. Read individual reviews to understand patients’ specific experiences, including any issues or concerns they may have raised.
- Pay attention to any common themes that emerge in the reviews. For example, if multiple patients mention long wait times or difficulty reaching customer service, this may be cause for concern.
- While a high rating is always desirable, you must also consider the number of reviews. A pharmacy with a 5-star rating based on only a handful of reviews may not be as reliable as one with a slightly lower rating but hundreds of reviews.
- Remember that reviews are subjective and may not necessarily reflect your own experience. Use them to gather information and insights, but rely on them only partially when deciding.
Finding a pharmacy with expertise in the specific type of medication you require is crucial. A pharmacy specialising in compounding medications for pets, for example, will have the necessary knowledge and expertise to prepare a medication that meets the unique needs of animals. Such a pharmacy will also understand the regulations governing veterinary medications and be able to provide advice on how to administer the medication.
Look for a pharmacy with a robust quality control programme to ensure its medications are safe and effective. Quality control measures include testing the raw materials and the finished product and providing the compounded medicine correctly.
While it’s crucial to prioritise quality over price, it’s still important to ensure that the pharmacy’s prices are fair and reasonable. Here’s why:
Not all compounding pharmacies charge the same prices for their services. Some pharmacies may have lower prices due to their lower overhead costs or because they use cheaper ingredients. On the other hand, some pharmacies may charge more because they use higher-quality ingredients or have a more advanced compounding process.
Some insurance plans may cover the cost of compounded medications, while others may not. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to see what your plan covers and whether the pharmacy you’re considering is in-network. It can help you avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
Some pharmacies may offer discounts or promotions for certain medications or for repeat customers. It’s worth asking the pharmacy if they offer discounts or have a loyalty program.
Referrals and Recommendations
Your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare professionals can recommend a compounding pharmacy they trust. Here are some reasons why referrals and recommendations are important when selecting a compounding pharmacy:
- Healthcare professionals can recommend a pharmacy that specialises in your medication or condition.
- Recommendations help establish trust in the pharmacy’s ability to provide high-quality compounded medications.
- Healthcare professionals will likely recommend pharmacies with a reputation for quality and safety.
- Referrals and recommendations can save time and effort in researching compounding pharmacies.
Choosing a compounding pharmacy requires careful consideration and research. Patients must prioritise their health needs and ensure that their chosen pharmacy is reputable, accredited, and has experienced and qualified pharmacists. It’s essential to clearly understand the compounding process, the ingredients used, and potential side effects or interactions. Patients should also consider the pharmacy’s customer service, communication, and pricing before deciding to ensure a positive experience.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.