Pharmacies are an indispensable part of the healthcare system and an average person’s daily life. From a minor cold medicine to drugs for serious health conditions, we all rely on pharmacies to get the needed prescription. Despite the important role pharmacies play, many of us are unaware of the different kinds of pharmacies out there. You think the retail pharmacies present in almost every locality and healthcare facility are the only options to get the needed medication. However, this isn’t true!
Typically, pharmacies are of two types: retail pharmacy and compounding pharmacy. When a physician prescribes a specific medication, you take that prescription to the pharmacy and get the medication. The pharmacist not only gives you the prescribed medication but also provides usage instruction, a side-effects warning, and even answers any questions that you might have. Most of the time, patients visit retail pharmacy stores to get medications that are already in stock. You know what a retail pharmacy is but what about the second type? What is compounding pharmacy and how it is different from retail pharmacies? Let’s find out!
Difference between Retail & Compounding Pharmacy
You already know what a retail pharmacy is. The drug shops in the market and pharmacy stores in healthcare facilities are retail pharmacies. This type of pharmacy provides commercially available medications that are mass-produced by large pharmaceutical companies. These mass-produced drugs are formulated to meet the health needs of the masses. However, sometimes large manufacturers discontinue some medications or there can be a short supply of the required drugs. When this happens, patients may get the needed drugs through compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacists are licensed professionals who formulate customized medications. Whether medicine is unavailable commercially or has an allergy-causing ingredient, compounding provides tailored solutions that meet the specific needs of a patient. So, both retail and compounding pharmacies provide medications but there is a difference in the manufacturing process.
Retail vs. Compounding Pharmacy
Retail pharmacies provide drugs that are approved and manufactured by large companies for commercial use. Compounding pharmacies are specialized facilities that formulate customized medication as per the doctor’s prescription and directions. The way medications are made and the ingredients used distinguish compounding pharmacies from retail pharmacies. Retail pharmacies stock pre-made medicines that are purchased in bulk and readily available. A compounding pharmacist, on the other hand, formulates prescriptions for specific patients which mean that medicines are not readily available. Compounding is the process of customizing prescriptions by adding, subtracting, or altering active ingredients. For instance, if a patient is allergic to dyes or preservatives found in commercial medications, a compounding pharmacist can remove those allergy-causing ingredients. It is also possible to add flavors to improve the taste of bitter medicines. Another benefit of compounding is the ability to change dosage form. A tablet can be changed into syrup, gel, or other forms. The aim is basically to formulate a unique medication to fit your individualized needs. Compounding pharmacists can create customized medications for hormone therapy, dermatology, pain management, animal/veterinary medicine, and more.