How To Evaluate a Compounding Pharmacy

compounding-pharmacyAs I’ve mentioned in previous posts, compounding pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA and are therefore not required to meet the same strict manufacturing criteria as drug manufacturers.  Compounding pharmacies are regulated by individual state boards of pharmacy that regulate retail pharmacies.  Depending on the state there are varying degrees of oversight on compounding practices.  That being said, pharmacies that have good procedures, top of the line equipment, and continual quality control can make a compounded medication that rivals a mass produced pharmaceutical in its potency and purity.

Therefore, it is important to critically evaluate the compounding pharmacy you are going to use to make sure that your medication is going to be of high quality.

Here are some questions you may want to ask when talking to a pharmacy about filling your medication:

  1. What kind of equipment is used? If you are getting a cream, is the cream run through an ointment mill and some sort of homogenizer?  The ointment mill pulverizes the active ingredients making them micro-sized and improving penetration through the skin.  A homogenizer or electric mortar and pestle will mix the cream at high speed so that every teaspoonful will have the exact same amount of active ingredient as any other.  All compounded creams must be run through these two pieces of equipment to be considered of high quality.
  2. Does the pharmacist have a relationship with my doctor, and if not, is the pharmacist willing to forge a relationship with him or her? Compounded prescriptions require a much higher level of communication between the pharmacist and the prescriber than conventional medications do.  A good, open communication between your pharmacist and prescriber will help ensure that you are getting the appropriate medication in the appropriate way.
  3. Is the pharmacist easily accessible to answer questions? Not only does compounding require close communication between the pharmacist and the prescriber, it also requires close communication between you and the pharmacist.  Choose a pharmacy where you feel the pharmacist is available to talk and listen to you when you have any concerns or questions.  This, again, will help ensure you get the right medication and use it the right way.
  4. Does the pharmacy send out samples to get tested on a regular basis? This is called “skip-lot testing” and is the only way for a compounding pharmacy to know if their products are what they say they are on the label.  Ask your pharmacy if they send out samples to be tested and how often.  Busier pharmacies should send them out more often than slow ones.
  5. Is the pharmacy accredited? This is something new to the world of compounding pharmacy.  The body that accredits pharmacies is called PCAB (Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board).  You can learn more about them at  Just because a pharmacy is not accredited does not mean it is not making a high quality medication, but if they are accredited you can be sure that they met minimum requirements set out by PCAB.  I expect that in several years, all of the top compounding pharmacies will be accredited.

I hope you find this helpful, and please feel free to ask any questions or post any comments.

Thank you and live well!


3 Responses to “How To Evaluate a Compounding Pharmacy”

  1. 1 Adelaine Saria February 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Your information is very helpful and useful. Our pharmacy often gets requests for compounded products but unfortunately it is not a service we currently provide. Are you able to email me your pharmacy contact info so that I may refer patients to you in the future?


  2. 3 Zdrowy July 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information|. I’m glad that you shared this info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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