Everyone responds to substances that they inhale, ingest, or receive via injection or through the skin, differently. When it comes to medications, not everyone responds the same and achieve the same results. The purpose of pharmacy compounding is to meet the needs of people who are unable to take medication in the commercial form.
Compounding pharmacists customize a patient’s medication prescription for the specific needs of the patient. As the demand for compounded medications increased, the pharmacy industry realized there was a need for a national set of standards so that compounding pharmacies could test their quality practices. There is now a big demand for compounding pharmacists.
Compound pharmacists are pharmacists who are specially trained. In the U.S., all licensed pharmacists are capable of performing some type of compounding. Compounding is taught in pharmaceutical programs in pharmacy school. Every pharmacist are required to have these basic skills in order to graduate and become licensed. The level of continuing education one obtains and years of experience coincides with how specialized one becomes in the compound pharmacy field. Pharmacists are trained in pharmacy school to compound and the amount of training one receives is dependent upon the particular pharmacy school they attend. As the medication preparations become more complicated, the amount of training that is needed increases. There continuing education programs are available for those who want to keep their training and experience current.
All licensed pharmacies must be able to provide some level of compounding. However, some compounded prescriptions have to be referred to specialty compounding pharmacies. The average chain pharmacy compounds 1-3% of total prescriptions. Compounding is regulated by the individual state pharmacy boards and manufacturing is regulated by the FDA. Besides working in a compounding pharmacy, if you are interested in pharmaceutics, working for a drug company in the drug production department is often recommended in order to get more experience to become a compounding pharmacist.
In 2004, major pharmacy associations joined with the U.S. Pharmacopeia to form the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB). This is a voluntary accreditation organization whose purpose is to assure the quality of compounded medications that patients are prescribed. PCAB Accredited compounding pharmacies are required to have specific training in the methods of compounding.
To become PCAB-accredited, compounding pharmacies are tested against 10 strict standards. These standards include: “regulatory compliance; personnel; facilities and equipment for both sterile and non-sterile compounding; chemicals and the compounding process; beyond-use dating and stability; packaging, labeling, delivery for administration and dispensing; practitioner and patient education; quality assurance and self-assessment.”
With so many pharmacies across the country that have already been accredited and so many pending applications, obtaining a position in one of these accredited pharmacies is becoming much easier. The PCAB is already providing patients with a way to select a compounding pharmacy that meets very strict and high quality standards.
The importance of compounding pharmacies is now being realized as the demand for these pharmacies grows. Because of the increasingly different requirements for individual patients, compounding pharmacies are now an important part of the pharmacy industry.