Most everybody is accustomed to pharmacies and prescriptions these days. It's become a massive nation-wide system that allows doctors to whip up an electronic order and have it ready at your neighborhood drug store by the time you can get there from the doctor's office.
The system has become so ubiquitous and convenience-oriented that few people remember the days when pharmacists actually made their own pills and drugs on the spot for customers who came in with written prescriptions.
Today, those talented few who can and do still make their own unique drug mixtures are often referred to as compounding pharmacists, and their creations are usually called specialty compounds. There are a lot of very good reasons why you might decide to see a traditional compounding pharmacy rather than the fast-food-style drive-through version, here are a few of the major ones:
You Need a Tailored Dose
Quite often, a medicine that has a negative side effect at the dose you're taking will work without (or with reduced) side effects at a smaller dose, but the mainstream pharmacies only carry pre-made pills at pre-made doses. A compounding pharmacy can put the same drug in doses that your body is more capable of handling.
You Need a Different Delivery Method
This is most common when you have a drug that normally comes in a large pill and the person taking the drug has a disease that gives them trouble swallowing. A different delivery method may also be necessary when the drug comes in suppository form and the person taking the drug has some form of the runs. When you need the drug, but you can't deal with the typical method of delivery, specialty compounding is the answer. It can allow pills, liquids, injections, and more to be created out of almost any drug.
You’re Allergic to the 'Inactive' Ingredients, Preservatives, Dyes, or Flavors
Almost every drug on the market is powerful enough that the pills you swallow to take them are less than 10% actual drug mass. And while the industry tries to choose the most inert possible ingredients for those other 90%, some people are allergic to them anyway.
In particular, the dyes used to color-code some drugs have been known to cause people problems. A compounding pharmacy can give you the effective molecules without pairing them up with others that might cause problems with allergies.
The Medication You Need Is Not Available From a "Normal" Drugstore
This is possibly the greatest benefit of specialty compounding -- the ability to have unusual medications turned into recognizable, easy-to-take pills. This is becoming more and more popular as people turn to alternative medical professionals like nutritionists over their general practitioners.
For example, if your dietician tells you that you should be taking 2 grams of turmeric with every meal (it's a great anti-inflammatory), you can sprinkle enough over your food that everything has a curry flavor and turns your mouth yellow -- or you can ask a compounding pharmacist to make you turmeric pills and avoid the hassle.
Specialty compounding isn't some strange fringe of pharmaceutical medicine -- it's been around longer than most of the drive-through druggists you're probably used to. And for many folks whom for whatever reason cannot handle the ‘standard form’ of a certain drug, this science has proven to be a lifesaver.
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