What is a Compounding Pharmacy? Plus 4 Times You Might Need One

Written by Ally Streelman

NowRx Pharmacy

What is a Compounding Pharmacy? Plus, 4 Times You May Need To Use One - NowRx

Compounding pharmacies are a special type of pharmacy that can customize drugs to meet the individual needs of a patient. There are a few potential reasons you may need to visit a compounding pharmacy, such as if you have an allergy, or if your child can’t tolerate oral medication.

Here, we explore what compounding pharmacies do and why some patients require them.

What Is a Compounding Pharmacy

A compounding pharmacy is a pharmacy that specializes in compounding medications. Compound drugs are, like they sound, a mix of multiple drugs or a special formulation of a particular drug. 

According to the American Pharmacists Association, most pharmacies offer some level of compounding. However, most compounding is done in pharmacies that have made the investment in specific equipment and training to compound medications safely and efficiently. 

While many pharmacies can provide some common compound drugs, you may need to visit a special compounding pharmacy in case your doctor prescribes a compound medication you can’t get at a regular pharmacy. 

What Does a Compounding Pharmacy Do

Compound pharmacies prepare special formulations of medications to meet the unique needs of individual patients. This is necessary when a commercially available drug does not meet those needs, such as when the patient can’t tolerate the commercially available drug due to its ingredients, flavor, or form, i.e. tablet, pill, or liquid. 

A licensed pharmacist must prepare the compound medication. In doing so, they can customize the strength or dosage of the medication, the flavor, or the ingredients according to a doctor’s prescription.

Compound pharmacists use tools, such as mortar and pestle, graduated cylinders, balances, spatulas, and ointment slabs, among others, to mix and measure medications to create the proper formulation. 

When You May Need Compound Medication

There are a few times when you may need to use a compounding pharmacy rather than your regular pharmacy to fill a prescription. If you do need to visit a compounding pharmacy, your doctor will likely provide instructions to do so and recommend a local option.

Here are four instances when a compounding pharmacy may be necessary. 

1. For Topical Medications

It’s not uncommon for dermatologists to prescribe combination ointments or creams to treat various skin conditions or for general practitioners to prescribe combination creams for staph infections, hormone assistance, or joint pain.

For these topical medications, a compounding pharmacist will typically mix two or three ointments with different active ingredients. The compounded medication makes it easier for patients to use just one ointment, rather than having to use multiple treatments at once. 

2. For Magic Mouthwash

Magic mouthwash is a compound medication that is commonly used to treat mouth sores from chemotherapy and radiation. It is usually made up of some combination of antibiotics, antacids, antihistamines, antifungals, and corticosteroids.

If you develop mouth sores from chemotherapy or for another reason, your doctor may recommend magic mouthwash, which you can get from a compounding pharmacy. 

3. For A Different Form of Medication 

If you have a difficult time swallowing pill medication, you may need to visit a compounding pharmacy for a liquid form of the medication. This may also be the case if you have allergies to an ingredient, such as gelatin or dye, that is used in the tablet or pill form of the medication.

By getting a compounded medication, you can more easily take or administer the medication and avoid potential allergic reactions. 

4. For Kids’ Medication

You may need to visit a compounding pharmacy if your child needs a medication that isn’t typically available for children. Compounding pharmacies can alter the dose to make it appropriate for a child and even help improve the taste of certain medications by adding flavors.

This can be particularly helpful when trying to get your kids to take the medicine they need. 

How Do I Find a Compounding Pharmacy Near Me? 

If your doctor prescribes a medication that requires compounding, ask them for a referral to a pharmacy near you that can fulfill the prescription. Some compounded drugs are available at a regular pharmacy or even at the doctor’s office or clinic. If your medication requires a specialty compounding pharmacy and your doctor wasn’t able to refer you to a location, there are resources you can utilize to find a compounding pharmacy near you.

A simple google search can surface compounding pharmacies near you. However, you can also use this tool provided by the Professional Compounding Centers of America to locate a legitimate compounding pharmacy near you. 

If NowRx is your pharmacy and you have a prescription for a compound medication, reach out to your pharmacist and ask if they can provide the medication you need. Or, if you have a question about pharmacy delivery, send us an email at  


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