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What is a compounding pharmacy?

Posted on December 1, 2015

Many of us have heard the term compounding and seen compounding pharmacies, but what does that mean? Compounding is when a pharmacist mixes together multiple medications or changes a medication to meet an individual patient’s needs. Compounding, while not as common now, was at one time the predominate service provided by pharmacists. However, in the 1950’s and 60’s, mass drug manufacturing began sweeping the market and now is the predominate source of medications. These mass produced medications are able to meet our needs most of the time, but there are occasions where a more personalized approach needs to be taken for an individual. Here are some common reasons for compounding:

  • A specific dose of a medication is needed that is not available commercially.
  • A certain dosage form is needed that is not available commercially, such as changing a medication from tablet to liquid form.
  • Allergies to commercially available products
  • Veterinary medications

Common compounded medications include hormone replacement medications, thyroid medications, and medications compounded into lower doses for children. Compounded medications still require a prescription and, other than the fact that they are made in your local pharmacy, go through the same dispensing process at the pharmacy.

So are compounded medications legal? Absolutely! The FDA has laws in place to protect patients from compounded medications that are mislabeled or unsafe. Additionally, state boards of pharmacy regulate the day-to-day operations of compounding pharmacies.

Have additional questions about compounding, or do you think a compounded medication may be right for you? Stop by your local Fagen Pharmacy and talk to one of our friendly staff members today!


  1. What is compounding?. PCCA. Available at: Accessed November 18, 2015.
  2. Compounding and the FDA: Questions and Answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: ComplianceRegulatoryInformation/PharmacyCompounding/ucm339764.htm. Updated October 6, 2015. Accessed November 18, 2015.
  3. Gianutsos G. Regulation and Safety Issues in Compounding. U.S. Pharmacist. October 2015.

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