With the development of technology and medical science, we are lucky enough to be able to treat the majority of conditions that arise for us in the modern-day. From the common cold to far more severe illnesses, medicine allows us to continue living a reasonably normal life without any hindrances. As medicine continues to evolve, we face difficult questions regarding the development of said medicines. Animal testing is a hugely controversial topic and the general consensus is that it should be against the law to test anything on animals at all. More recent questions involve compounded medication. What is it? How does it benefit us? And should pharmacies be investing in it?
What are Compounded Meds?
Drug compounding is known and regarded as the process of mixing, combining, and the altering of ingredients to create a customised medication that is tailored specifically to the needs of an individual. Compounding is the combination of two or more drugs into one. However, they are not regulated by the FDA, and they are not FDA approved. This means any drug created for you will have to be made by a professional, reliable, and trusted company with a long term track record of success, free from liability lawsuits.
Why Do Some Patients Need Compounded Meds?
Some patients have specific needs. These specific needs mean that sometimes an FDA-approved drug isn’t going to work as required. This is where compounded medication comes in. Let’s take an elderly patient, for example, that finds it immensely difficult to swallow any form of tablet or capsule. If the only FDA-approved medication that treats the targeted illness is in a solid form then it’s going to be incredibly difficult to treat. Compounded medication gives the ability to transform that solid medication into a liquid, much easier to administer. It’s known to practitioners in hospitals and healthcare facilities to provide compounded drugs to patients when the standard FDA-approved route isn’t available to them.
In this simple example, it’s easy to see how useful and beneficial compounding medication can be. But this doesn’t mean it’s always safe. Some compounders act in a way that could either put patients at risk, reduce the effectiveness of the drug, or even undermine the approval process. The FDA, for example, has observed that some (not all) compounders have lied about the safety and effectiveness of their drugs by stating they have met the standards set by the FDA.
Are There Any Risks of Taking Compounded Meds?
As already stated, compounded drugs have the ability to serve some individual needs of specific patients, however, they don’t come with the same safety guarantees, quality, or the assurance of effectiveness as those FDA-approved drugs. In fact, unnecessary use of compounded drugs can potentially lead to serious health risks.
As the FDA doesn’t approve compounded drugs, nor test them to verify their safety, effectiveness, or quality before they head out to the market, there is no guarantee for the patient taking them. This is the largest risk we face when talking about compounded drugs. In addition to this, poor compounding practices can result in serious contamination or something that’s completely off balance – one drug being far higher in dosage than the other. This isn’t just poor practice, it can lead to serious injury or even death.
On multiple occasions, the FDA has found troubling scenes in the labs of compounding companies. Poor practices include animal beds near sterile environments, the wrong equipment being used for sterilization (toaster ovens), even operators handing drugs with their bare hands. These kinds of environments can cause havoc to anyone taking the created drug, especially when it’s made for the mass market and not specifically for an individual. Large amounts are made and shipped out without a thought of who it’s going to.
Should Pharmacies Be Investing in Compounded Meds?
If we look at the facts we can come to a conclusion to answer this question. There are situations in which compounded drugs are a necessity. This is due to certain patients needing a different form of treatment. Whilst the FDA doesn’t currently regulate compounded medication, there’s no reason as to why they won’t in the future.
For something to gain traction, it needs to be widely used. If more people start needing, requiring, or using compounded medication, then it’s likely the FDA will take more of an interest in the field. For example, the use of CBD has become hugely popular meaning the FDA now regulates it.
Despite the fact it’s currently unclear regarding the complete safety of compounded drugs, if pharmacies start to invest large sums of money into the project then more people will start to use them. If more people use them, the FDA will eventually have to regulate them, meaning they’re safer for everyone to use. So the simple answer is yes, pharmacies should be investing in compounded medication.