Compounding and Quality
The science of pharmacy originated in the practice of compounding. In the twentieth century, however, mass-produced drugs began to take precedence because these medications could be manufactured more efficiently and their contents more easily regulated. However, mass-produced drugs are sometimes unable to address patients’ needs on an individual basis, as many are available in limited dosage forms and strengths.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the importance of personalized medicine gained renewed recognition. As a result, the number of compounded prescriptions began increasing and instigated a renaissance in compounding pharmacy. Today, the demand for compounded medications makes compounding a rapidly-growing component of pharmacy practice as a whole.
In the pharmacy industry, compounding pharmacists are regulated by their state boards of pharmacy. Standards are set by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and National Formulary for quality assurance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has jurisdiction over ensuring the quality of the ingredients involved in compounding.
The “Essential Triad”
Awareness, education, and communication are key to optimizing hormone balance. With compounded hormone prescriptions, it’s vital that the patient, practitioner, and pharmacist maintain an open line of communication and sharing information. All three individuals play a critical role in obtaining and maintaining the patient’s optimal hormone balance.
To achieve hormone balance, the patient needs to pay careful attention to symptoms and communicate this information to the practitioner. Using this information, the practitioner can direct the pharmacist in developing an effective hormone therapy. It is important that patients feel comfortable asking questions and requesting information from their practitioner and pharmacist concerning their hormone therapy.
The practitioner examines, evaluates, tests, diagnoses, and prescribes treatment. Once the practitioner prescribes hormone therapy, they will monitor its effects. Compounded bioidentical hormones may be adjusted in their dosing as well as their formulation, under the practitioner’s guidance, to achieve the goal of optimal hormone balance for each of their patients.
The pharmacist provides quality assurance for every prescription compounded. The compounding pharmacist is available to provide information and resources about hormone strengths, dosages, formulations, and effects. If either the practitioner or patient has questions or concerns, the pharmacist is available for peer-to-peer or personal consultations.
Compounded bioidentical hormone therapy has the potential to improve the lives of many people who suffer from symptoms related to a hormone imbalance. However, all hormone therapies —whether bioidentical or not—may have risks associated with them, and these risks may be different depending on the kind of hormone therapy. You and your practitioner should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various hormone therapies, and weigh the risks of therapy against the risks of the potential health issues and discomfort associated with leaving your hormone imbalance untreated.