With the nationwide recalls of medicine from New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, compounding pharmacies are in the spotlight. But what are they?
The art of compounding has been around since the early days of pharmacy. Compounding is when a medication is mixed into a unique prescription. Owner of Mike's Pharmacy Mike Merrill said, "We can put that in a cream, a dissolvable tablet that goes in the mouth or a pill that you can swallow and that would be the exact medication dose that that patient would need."
Mike's Pharmacy has been in business in Idaho Falls for 28 years. Mike's Pharmacy owner has an in-house compounding lab. Technicians take the prescriptions from physicians and customize them for patients.
"Let's say a lady needs a certain percentage of the certain hormones that she has. The doctor can tell us exactly what she needs and we can put that in a formula," said Merrill.
Mike's Pharmacy can also add flavor to medicine, even making medicated lollipops for kids who have trouble taking medicine.
"We can take some compounds, some things taste so terrible you can't cover up the taste, but a lot of times we can cover up the flavor or the taste of the medication that we can make it taste good enough to take," said Merrill.
Since compounding pharmacies don't manufacture drugs, they are not federally regulated.
In Idaho, compounding pharmacies and regular pharmacies are regulated at the state level by the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy. Most compounding pharmacies belong to a professional compounding group that test their products to make sure they're authentic.
Many compounding pharmacies can also compound for animals. Veterinary medications can be compounded into capsules, suspensions, even chewable treats.