With compounded medications under scrutiny after the meningitis outbreak in Massachusetts, a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association underscores the value of compounding services to community pharmacies and their patients.


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NCPA survey spotlights value of compounding services

November 13th, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With compounded medications under scrutiny after the meningitis outbreak in Massachusetts, a survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association underscores the value of compounding services to community pharmacies and their patients.

NCPA said Tuesday that the study's findings show that although compounding remains a thin slice of independent pharmacies' business, these medications can make a big difference for patients.

Of the more than 400 independent pharmacists polled earlier this month, 85.5% of their pharmacies provide traditional compounding pharmacy services. And of the pharmacies that offer compounding, 62% compound 5% or fewer of their total prescriptions filled each year. Also, 72% of compounding pharmacists provide only nonsterile medications.

Still, 70% of pharmacists surveyed said they participate in ongoing training/educational courses related to compounding techniques, in addition to any continuing education that may be required to uphold their pharmacist license.

"This survey offers fresh evidence that traditional compounding services are a saving grace for patients when mass-produced drugs aren't available or are not appropriate for the patient," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "Traditional compounding may just be one of many health services offered by independent community pharmacists, but it is vital to better health for many Americans.

The NCPA survey fielded pharmacist comments that shed light on how vital compounded medicines are for many patients. Their comments included the following:

• "We have a cystic fibrosis patient who would not be alive today without the compound we make for him."

• "We have a patient who cannot swallow properly so all his medications must be made into liquids. Tablets/capsules get lodged in his esophagus, causing damage. He was suffering prior to us compounding his medications into liquids."

• "We compound medications that are not commercially available that patients often cannot do without. An example is child coming out of a children's hospital in need of heart medications that must be reformulated from an adult's dose to a child's dose."

• "I have a patient who is allergic to all dyes, preservatives, corn and gluten. She cannot take most conventional medications due to the fact that they have most of these ingredients in them. I have been able to formulate her medicines into a capsule formulation and ensure that there is nothing she is allergic to in the capsules."

• "We have quite a few patients who are able to be seizure-free because we can compound their medications into age-appropriate doses that are not commercially available."

"Pharmacists will continue to work constructively with Congress and other policymakers to not only help prevent another crisis like the meningitis outbreak, but to also preserve patients' access to customized and safe compounded medications," Hoey stated.

He added, "Pharmacists are appalled by the reported actions of the rogue drug manufacturer at the center of the tragic, nationwide meningitis outbreak. It purported to be a pharmacy, but its actions told another story. It's disappointing that regulators did not act sooner to prevent patient suffering." 

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