WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
Prescription compounds are precisely measured in a sterile, ventilated setting to ensure medications are formulated to the exact needs of their patients.
Take one part chemistry, one part creativity and one part medical ingenuity; finely mix with a mortar and pestle and the resulting combination leaves individualized treatment that really helps the medicine go down.
While one-size-fits-all solutions work in some cases, when it comes to prescription medications, the customized pharmaceutical options that compounding centers provide allow physicians and their patients vital options for treatment.
Not too unlike apothecaries of old, compounding pharmacies take the essential components of medications and customize them into specialized formulations not found in a commercially available prescription medium.
Specifically, compounding gives physicians a new course of action for a patient who might not be able to take a specific medicine due to any number of reasons, said Matt Sullivan, marketing director at Strawberry Hills Pharmacy & Compounding Center.
“Maybe the patient needs something that’s a little bit out of the ordinary or they need a medicine that they can’t tolerate — maybe they can’t take it in a pill form because the pill has different side effects — we can make the medication for the patient, specifically tailored to their needs, in a format or delivery system that is more palatable for them,” Sullivan said.
With additional certifications and training, compounding pharmacies are provided access to the different recipes for prescription medications and use raw active ingredients to reconstitute the product.
Not the typical pharmacy setting, compounding centers like Strawberry Hills Pharmacy contain advanced compounding rooms that look more like a chemistry lab, as masked technicians carefully measure ingredients beneath vacuum hoods.
“We can also compound based upon lab results,” Sullivan said. “We can make medication that is a more detailed prescription, specifically for their needs.”
Physicians can request medications not available any more, prescriptions of varying dosage strength or in an entirely different medium, such as compounding prescription medications into capsules, creams, tablets, liquids or suppositories.
Compounding also helps physicians and pharmacists provide appropriate medications to their smallest patients, as well.
Michelle Lowe, pharmacist and owner of the Lone Oak Pharmacy & Compounding Shoppe, said many medications commercially available don’t come in a form that’s easy for children to take, so compounding can help reform the medicine appropriate to their age.
“Usually medications come in a pill form and children often can’t swallow that,” Lowe said. “We can manipulate that pill and put it into a liquid or a lollipop, or we’ve done gummy bears before.”
For all the benefits offered to patients, it’s important to note that compounding can only begin with open communication among physicians, patients and pharmacists. Lowe said even if a medication isn’t regulated, the pharmacy will not compound without a doctor’s recommendation.
“It’s nice to do something that’s not mass produced and it’s very rewarding when patients are sick and we’re able to help them,” sh said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.