The Art & Science of Compounding


Antique pharmacy jars over wood tableCompound Pharmacy is an age-old art that dates as far back as the ancient Egyptian era. With a Physician’s written prescription, a Pharmacist can create a custom-made medication by combining and compounding raw chemicals or powders. The new substance is then processed with special equipment and stored in a usable form for the patient. The medication is now tailored to the individual patient’s particular need, which encourages the patient to complete her required prescription. Pharmacy Technicians (under the direct supervision of the Pharmacist), assist the Pharmacist with the receiving, compounding and filling prescriptions.

Pharmacists and Physicians work together to create a positive and effective experience for the patient. Compounding is very important and useful for a variety of reasons. With a Physicians order:

  • Medication strength can be altered into a dosage that may not be typically available in a standard pharmacy
  • The form of prescription can be altered to make it easier for a patient to ingest (for example, a pill form to liquid form)
  • Flavoring can be added or altered to encourage the patient to ingest an otherwise unpleasant tasting prescription
  • Multiple prescriptions can be consolidated into a single dosage
  • Medication can be customized for a wide variety of non-traditional application purposes (creams, gels, eye drops, syringes, lozenges, popsicles, etc.)
  • Certain allergens like fillers, flavorings or dyes found in commercial medications can be taken out in order to eliminate allergic reactions.

There are numerous Compounding Pharmacies currently in the U.S. today, and the demand for more is on the rise. In today’s modern world of large pharmaceutical companies, many people are turning to Compounding Pharmacies to receive their custom created prescription as an alternative to traditional “off the shelf, one size fits all” medications Many Compounding Pharmacies specialize in traditional medical prescriptions and also offer bio/hormone replacement therapy for humans; some also provide customized Veterinary medications A couple of local examples of Compound Pharmacies are Mixtures Pharmacy located in Gilbert and Ahwatukee and Diamondback Drugs in Scottsdale.

Arizona College’s Pharmacy Technician program curriculum includes courses/labs that teach students how to compound a wide variety of medications. One common medication students practice compounding is a muscle pain relief cream, similar to the popular off the shelf Bengay Medicated Ointment. If the idea of compounding medication, filling prescriptions and assisting the Pharmacist interests you, then a career as a Pharmacy Technician might be for you. Arizona College has two conveniently located campuses in Glendale and Mesa. Contact Arizona College today to learn more about your future as a Pharmacy Technician.

Information in this blog post is accurate as of August 19, 2014.