What is a Compounding Pharmacy?

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Why are compounding pharmacies important in the market?

This week, Brett and I are discussing the way drugs are made and marketed in the United States. We talk about the production and the distribution systems and how they work. One of the interesting things about this conversation is that there are often shortages of medicines. When you have a prescription for a med, you expect to go to a drug store and just get it filled. Sometimes you encounter the frustration of not being able to get it when you want it or need it at your local pharmacy. Sometimes though, it is more than mere frustration. Sometimes you desperately need the drug. It might even be a life threatening situation if you don’t get it. Then your are way more than frustrated, you are frightened and at risk.

“How can this happen in the United States? What can we do about it? Large industrial pharmaceutical companies plan production and distribution runs. There are many factors that go into that planning process. Sometimes there are emergent situations like an epidemic that throw everything off balance, once in awhile there are shortages because of the limits of the manufacturing process, and finally shortages happen because administrative decisions are made to manufacture high profit high demand drugs and others fall off the radar and don’t get made.

When there is a need and the drug stores don’t have them, where is a person to go? They go to a compound pharmacy. These pharmacies, using their own raw ingredients, make the drugs to order on demand and provide them to the individual or the hospital or the vet who need them.

This is much more common than you would think. Fully 40% of all IV drugs used in American Hospitals are manufactured by compound pharmacies. At least compounding pharmacies makes 20% of the veterinary medicines used in the United States, particularly in veterinary hospitals.

Today there is a great deal of lobbying and maneuvering going on in Washington as our government endeavors to make changes in the laws regarding Compounding Pharmacies. We want you, as informed consumers, to monitor these efforts and make your voices heard to your Congressman about the importance to us all of Compounding Pharmacies and the jobs they do.

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