Compounding Pharmacies
What They Are; What They Do; How To Find One

In their early days, pharmacies used to receive prescriptions from physicians that were almost always hand-written recipes of between two and six ingredients, that were to be mixed and/or heated in a specific manner, then made into a syrup (if a liquid) or poured in exact amounts into empty gelatin capsules (if solid). A typical prescription might have been written like the example to the right (click the image to see the prescription full-sized).

The typical pharmacy, called a "chemist" in the early days (and still is in the U.K.), is shown in the photograph to the left (as before, click the image to see the quite large original photograph). Clearly, it bears little resemblance to the pharmacies of today, with their rows of finished tablets, capsules, syrups, injectables, etc., most of which are counted or measured using automated machines. Almost no Rx compounding occurs; in fact, pharmacists who wish to engage in compounding must pass a qualifying examination in order to do so. In past times, such skills were part of the normal R.Ph. curriculum.

Currently, there is a resurgence of interest in compounding pharmacies, which serve a variety of needs:

  • changing the form of a medication from a solid to a liquid or the reverse
  • removing a non-essential ingredient to which the patient is allergic
  • obtaining the exact dose needed (either less or more than usual)
  • adding favorite flavors to a medication
  • many, many other valid reasons

Due to the greater and more rigorous preparation required to become compounding pharmacists, pharmacies which carry out these exacting procedures are not very common. Fortunately, there are many in every state, and all do a vigorous mail order business. The following is a listing of compounding pharmacies licensed in their state of business: - a fairly new arrival, this site begins with a map of the US; you click on your state and it presents you with a list of compounding pharmacies in that state. To me, this looks incomplete and may be a work in progress. When I find something interesting, I'll document it here. [Note: It was necessary to bring this link up in its own tab; otherwise, the map doesn't show up]

International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists -"an association representing more than 2,700 pharmacists, technicians, students, and members of the compounding community who focus upon the specialty practice of pharmacy compounding." They also have a great locator for finding compounding pharmacies.

Local Compounding Pharmacies - a nicely formatted site with a map of the US; you just click on your state and take it from there!

NHRT Resources-Compounding Pharmacies - UNITED STATES LISTINGS-STATES-A-M

NHRT Resources-Compounding Pharmacies - UNITED STATES LISTINGS-STATES-N-Z

2006 Limited FDA Survey of Compounded Drug Products - FDA's usual concern with Guidance, Compliance & Regulatory Information for compounded drugs and drug formulations.

Locate Compounding Pharmacies - nicely organized site, but is missing several states. Still, if your state is listed, it's a great resource.

PCCA - Professional Compounding Centers of America "PCCA’s mission is to strengthen the role, position and skills of member compounding pharmacists so they can meet the unique healthcare needs of patients through our exceptional service, highest-quality products, shared innovations and education."

Compounding Pharmacies for Pets - Nationwide directory (unless your state doesn't have one) - If you've ever tried to give a pill to a cat, you can appreciate what a pharmacy that specializes in pet medications can do for you! (Also, if there are compounding pharmacies for pets, I'd think they'd be there for humans, right?)

If you have trouble taking any medication for any reason, I'd suggest looking through a few of the resources here and give one of them a call! They pride themselves in being able to solve unique problems, and their ultimate reward is hearing from a patient that their formulation worked very well!