The Ins and Outs of Compounding Pharmacies

The Ins and Outs of Compounding Pharmacies
May 26, 2023
RxLocal Team

Your health journey is a unique one. What works for one person doesn’t guarantee health and wellness for everyone else. Health journeys are a one-way street. You need medications, treatments, and services that make that path a smooth ride. 

Independent pharmacies offer all sorts of services than just pouring pills into a bottle. They also do more than just administer vaccines or monitor your A1C levels. Some of them create products specifically for you. 

Enter compounding pharmacies, a specialized and very essential part of the pharmacy industry. They create — or compound — medications that cater to your specific health needs. 

Compounding medications are a one-of-a-kind service. This approach to patient care is one of the most unique and important in the whole industry. 

Here’s what you need to know about compounding pharmacies. 

What are Compounding Pharmacies?

The FDA defines drug compounding as “the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient.” 

As you’d probably expect, that’s what compounding pharmacies are all about. Every prescription compounding pharmacies fill a unique, super-specific medication for one patient. 

No two prescriptions are ever alike — because no two health journeys are ever alike. Compounding pharmacies take a very different approach to patient care, which we’ll explore in later sections. 

What Do Compounding Pharmacies Fill? 

As we alluded to earlier, compounding pharmacies fill prescriptions you won’t find on a pharmacy shelf. They make medications that are meant for you and only you. 

While many compounding pharmacies stand on their own, more and more independent pharmacies offer compounding services. Use the Compounding filter in our “Pharmacy Finder” tool to find a compounding pharmacy near you. 

On average, compounding pharmacies fill fewer prescriptions than standard pharmacies. But a single prescription takes much more time to fill in compounding pharmacies. 

Why is this? 

Compounding pharmacies run at their own pace. They fill and compound medications that directly adhere to a single patient. That means the dosage of the prescription is tailor-made for that one patient. Compounding pharmacies safely and correctly change the makeup of a certain drug. 

Suppose a doctor writes a prescription for a high-dose antibiotic for a child. The problem is that standard pharmacies likely carry that dosage in a large capsule, which children often struggle to swallow. 

Compounding pharmacies can convert that horse pill into a liquid. And for good measure, they can flavor it to something the child likes (health journeys can be tasty every now and then). 

Compounding pharmacies are excellent for elderly patients too. Sometimes a standard pharmacy carries doses that are too high and too low for an elderly patient. Compounding pharmacies are there to find that happy medium. 

In short, compounding pharmacies fill exactly what a patient needs with careful precision and attention to detail. They make it a habit to make something out of nothing. 

How Prominent are Compounding Pharmacies? 

The NCPA’s 2022 Digest Report found that 55% of independent community pharmacies in the U.S. offer compounding services.

Compounding pharmacies fill vital gaps in modern patient care with their specialized services. An independent pharmacy that offers compounding services raises the quality of patient care to the next level. 

The Affordability of Compounding Pharmacies 

Now we get to the financial aspect of compounding pharmacies. Independent pharmacies are small businesses that need to generate profit to stay afloat. 

Financials play an important role in compounding pharmacies for both the patient and pharmacist. 

Though compounding pharmacies provide a one-of-a-kind product for your specific needs, it usually comes with a price. Compounded prescriptions can range in price from a few dollars to even the four-figure mark. 

What’s more, some insurance programs do not cover compounding medications or other kinds of specialty pharmacies. 

If your insurance does not cover a compounded medication, you can either use a drug discount card or ask the pharmacy to send a prior authorization request to the doctor. 

Prior authorizations are processes used by insurance companies to determine whether or not a drug is covered. 

It should also be noted that the prescription can still have a high copay, even after the prior authorization goes through. Contact your insurance provider to learn more about

your coverage for compounding pharmacies. 

Compounding pharmacies provide a vital service but they are sometimes too expensive for patients. Nevertheless, it’s worth knowing that compounding pharmacies are here to give you the most precise and personalized patient care around. 

Are Compounding Pharmacies for You?

As mentioned earlier, more than half of independent pharmacies in the U.S. offer compounding services. 

There are also pharmacies that exclusively compound medications, making them specialty pharmacies. As such, think twice before going to one for all your general healthcare needs (though your doctor will likely tell you if you should exclusively go to a compounding pharmacy). 

Compounding pharmacies do more than convert medications into different forms of doses. 

They combine medications to create something new. This compounded medication can improve your health in ways that individual medications cannot. 

Compounding pharmacies also make sure that combining these medications will not cause adverse side effects.

When it’s time to go to a compounding pharmacy, they will ensure you get the medications you need in the safest and most effective way possible. 


Everyone has different health needs, so it makes sense that one medication won’t fix everything for everyone. Compounding pharmacies ensure that you get the personalized products and care you need to live a healthier life.

Independent pharmacies make it their mission to help you become your best and healthiest self. 

Compounding pharmacies and independents that offer compounding services show how unique patient care can be. The beginning of your personalized health journey just might be around the corner