Most Maryland pharmacies receive medication from a manufacturer or reseller and then fill prescriptions as patients present them. For the most part, pharmacies are not responsible for creating the medications that they provide to patients. Some patients, however, have unique needs that are not met by commercially available drugs. For example, a young child may need a very small dose of a medication that is only available in adult doses, or a patient may be allergic to a particular ingredient in a medication.
While compounding pharmacies fill a much-needed role for some patients, they also present unique risks. Generally, compounding pharmacists attempt to mimic the effects of a particular medication while making some adjustments to the formulation. Because compounding pharmacies create custom prescriptions for patients on an as-needed basis, their product is not FDA-tested or approved.
A recent news report discusses a compounding pharmacy medication error that nearly claimed the life of the patient who thought she was taking the medication as directed. Evidently, the patient suffered from a rare disease called Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which a patient’s immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in insufficient hormone levels. As a result of her condition, the woman was prescribed thyroid medication by her physician.