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Pharmacists Implement Compounding to Decrease Drug Shortage

Close your eyes for a second and there is something new on the medical horizon. Today I came across the new concept of drug compounding. Those getting pharmacy technician training may need to learn about this cutting edge process.

I’m not a stranger to generic medications and love my $4 prescriptions from Target. However, the term “compounding” was new to me when I came across an article on Billings Gazette. Reporter Cindy Uken writes that “Some patients are finding it increasingly difficult to find diabetes, thyroid and pain medications and other drugs as the 6-year-old national drug shortage widens. But many are finding an alternative: compounding… ‘“We follow a formula step by step,’ Mark Jurovich, a pharmacist and co-owner of Juro’s Home Medical-Pharmacy said. ‘We use the same drug and the same concentration to get the same desired effect. We work to create an equivalent substitution.’”

Drug shortages are a huge problem for patients and compounding has helped to ease some of the pressure. Uken explains that, “In 2010, more than 240 drugs were either in short supply or not available, according to a report from Premier Healthcare Alliance. And more than 400 generic drugs were back-ordered for more than five days. Exacerbating the problem is that at least 89 new shortages were recorded through the end of March.

“The shortages are the result of a variety of factors that include manufacturing and quality problems, delays, and discontinuations; consolidation of pharmaceutical manufacturers; a shortage of imported raw materials; limited production capacity; a recall of some contaminated vials; closure of firms to upgrade processes; a halt in making older medications to begin production of newer, more profitable drugs; and spikes in demand.

“Many of the shortages involve older, cheaper generic medications with slim profit margins, causing manufacturers to halt production.”

Through carefully manufacturing compounds to make up for the drugs in demand, pharmacies are extending their role in the health care industry. “Though prices will vary depending on the type of drug, dosage and other factors, Jurovich said a compounding pharmacy can provide drugs ‘economically’ because the profit margin dictated by big pharmacy chains isn’t there. Most insurance companies cover compounded drugs, he said.”

As pharmacies continue to adopt this practice, students in a pharmacy assistant college in the Bay Area are likely to find more jobs available due to the increase in supply for certain medications at the pharmacy level.

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