Compounding medication is not new; this practice is many years old, and it was how medications were commonly created before they were made in factories. Your doctor may recommend a compounded medication for you, or you might discuss this option with him or her when given a prescription. Note a few questions you might have about compounded medication so you know why it may be a good choice for you and what to discuss with your physician about your options for taking your meds.
Can all medications be compounded?
In many cases, medications can be compounded; a medication that you might take by pill can be made in a syrup form or something you apply to the skin without compromising its effectiveness. However, not all medications can be administered in a variety of ways. For example, some medications may damage the stomach lining if you were to take them by pill form versus an injection, or it may take the body too long to break down that medication if you take a pill. Don't assume that all medications can be compounded, but also don't assume that your medication cannot be taken in a different form; your doctor will inform you of all your options for your medication and needed dosage, if necessary.
What is non-sterile compounding?
Non-sterile compounding doesn't mean that medications are made under non-sterile conditions; the term refers to certain medications that don't need to be sterile themselves. Medications made for injection or application to the eyes are sterile, and these need to be made to different standards than other medications, because they pose a bigger health risk if they contain traces of bacteria or fungi. It's good to know whether you would need sterile or non-sterile compounding, as not all pharmacists that offer compounding services may offer both; note, too, that non-sterile compounding does not mean you're at added risk when using a medication.
Does compounding affect dosage?
You may need to take a different amount of a compounded medication than one you get from a standard pharmacist; for example, you might need a dose of syrup four times per day, versus taking just one pill, and so on. This is because medication in different forms may be more or less concentrated, so you may need more or less of one form versus another. This is why it's good to pay very close attention to your doctor's and your pharmacist's directions on how to take a medication, as you don't want to assume that all dosages will be the same.