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Compounding Basics

William Benda, MD

Editor’s Note: This Special Report provides an overview of some of the complex issues involved in compounding pharmacy. There are many benefits to compounding as well as some concerns for safety and quality. We at the journal hope you find these articles helpful as well as insightful and thought provoking.

Drug compounding is a process by which a pharmacist or doctor combines, mixes, or alters ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient.

Until the advent of drug manufacturing in the 1950s, compounding was the exclusive method of preparing medications for clinical use. During the 1930s and 1940s approximately 60% of all medications were compounded, compared to about 1% in 2006. The lack of interest in compounding by the emerging pharmaceutical industry was quite understandable, as it was found to be much more costeffective to focus manufacturing energy on bulk production of the fewest number of individual combinations and standard dosages rather than attempt to meet the needs of large numbers of individual customers. This morphing of focus, however, left a significant need unfulfilled for those patients in need of individualized therapy..

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