My cousin is a compound pharmacist who, most of the time, works in hospitals alongside doctors. He is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). Initially, he was going to become a medical doctor, but because he suffers from a stuttering condition, he felt he wouldn’t be able to have a suitable bedside manner if he couldn’t stop stuttering. Even though his professors and people who loved him tried to convince him otherwise, he decided to become a pharmacist and help people that way.
Compounded medications are critical to patients who need treatment that is not readily available through commercially available prescription drugs. A compounding pharmacy is responsible for formulating customized medications that meet a patient’s unique needs.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the definition reads as follows: “Drug compounding is often regarded as the process of combining, mixing, or altering ingredients to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient. Compounding includes the combining of two or more drugs. Compounded drugs are not FDA-approved.”
My cousin works with many different medications, and on a typical day, he will work with the following common compounded medications –
For pain management:
- Flurbiprofen o
Other common compound medications are for hormone replacement:
(Please note: information within this article is meant for educational purposes only and is not a replacement for professional medical or psychological support. Seek appropriate advice from a healthcare professional should you feel it necessary.)
Who can compound medications?
FDA law states: Federal law addresses compounding by a licensed pharmacist in a state-licensed pharmacy, or federal facility, or by a physician, as well as compounding by or under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist in an outsourcing facility.
If you have ever experienced being admitted to the hospital or had a loved one be admitted, you probably received medication directly from the hospital’s pharmacist, who works alongside the doctors to create medication specific to the patient’s needs. This is what my cousin, the Doctor of Pharmacy, enjoys doing on a daily basis for several hospitals across his State of North Carolina.
A PharmD’s typical day may consist of the following actions:
- Provides quality patient care and dispenses medications
- Consults with physicians on the selection and dosage of medications
- Advises patients on general health topics
- Gives suggestions concerning the selection of over-the-counter medicine
- Contributes to research
- Active in testing of new drugs
A PharmD, or Doctor of Pharmacy, is a professional degree program that prepares students to become licensed pharmacists. They learn through a comprehensive curriculum that covers topics such as pharmacology, drug therapy, patient care, and healthcare systems.
Collaborating with medical professionals, specialists, nurses, and social workers, pharmacists continue to contribute to patient-centered care.
So the next time you are at your local pharmacy, remember that your pharmacist has a lot more knowledge and experience to offer other than what aisle the Band-Aids are in!
How many specialties are there in pharmacy?
Currently, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) recognizes more than 58,800 pharmacist certifications worldwide across fourteen specialties:
Ambulatory care pharmacy: Medication management for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Cardiology pharmacy: Medication regimens for patients with heart disease, such as prescribing anticoagulants for atrial fibrillation.
Compounded sterile preparations pharmacy: Customized sterile medications, such as intravenous antibiotics, for patients with specific needs.
Critical care pharmacy: Complex medication therapies for critically ill patients in intensive care units.
Emergency medicine pharmacy: Ensures rapid access to life-saving medications, like epinephrine, for patients experiencing severe allergic reactions or Narcan for opiate overdose.
Geriatric pharmacy: Adjusts medication regimens to meet the unique needs and potential interactions of elderly patients, such as optimizing dementia medications.
Infectious diseases pharmacy: Guides appropriate use of antimicrobial agents to treat infections while minimizing resistance, such as determining the right antibiotic for a patient with pneumonia.
Nuclear pharmacy: Compounds and dispenses radioactive medications, like technetium-99m, for diagnostic imaging or cancer treatments.
Nutrition support pharmacy: Formulates specialized enteral or parenteral nutrition solutions for patients with specific dietary requirements or who cannot eat orally.
Oncology pharmacy: Provides chemotherapy medications and manages their side effects
Okay, so what about the online pharmacies out there? What does an online pharmacist do?
Online pharmacy jobs
An online pharmacist’s job typically consists of compounding and dispensing prescribed drugs per a patient’s physician’s instructions for online or mail-order subscription orders. An online pharmacist’s role includes the management of a high volume of prescriptions and does not, generally speaking, interact with customers on a regular basis.
When researching online pharmacies, be sure to look at their reputation, reviews, and testimonials while also consulting with your healthcare team for the best possible avenues to explore. Also, ensure they are fully licensed, insured, and recognized by your health insurance. Furthermore, look for companies with solid teams that include licensed pharmacists, patient care advocates, administrators, and executives covering many different skills and interests.
Suppose you are on a fixed budget or have minimal means financially. In that case, there are even online pharmacies with the belief that everyone deserves access to affordable medications and that no one should ever have to choose between filling a prescription and feeding their family.
Here are just a few advantages to utilizing online pharmacies:
- Increased convenience, allowing patients to get their medications quickly, saving time and money
- Ability to research medical conditions and drug interactions for more informed decision-making.
- Access to lower prices due to competition among vendors
- Increased patient safety
Examples of compounding medications
Next time you visit your local pharmacy, don’t just see the pharmacist as the person who hands you your medication. They’re the unsung heroes who create personalized compounds, navigate drug interactions, and ensure your well-being. So remember to give them a nod of appreciation; it just might be my cousin looking forward to helping people like you.
(Always remember information within this article is meant for educational purposes only and is in no way a replacement for professional medical or psychological support. Seek appropriate advice from a healthcare professional should you feel it necessary.)