The More You Know: Why Patient Counseling for Compound Medication Matters More Than Ever

The More You Know: Why Patient Counseling for Compound Medication Matters More Than Ever

i-cadeceusMore than 4 million prescriptions were filled in the United States in 2014. The Food and Drug Administration approved more than 40 new drugs. Dozens of new and exciting uses for existing active pharmaceutical compounds went into clinical trials and other stages of research. Pharmaceuticals and pharmacology are poised for incredible growth as Americans grapple with chronic conditions and ways to manage pain in order to live better lives. At the heart of it all is the pharmacist and the pharmacy, and as the industry grows and more patients have access to health care and compound medication, the compounding pharmacist will be equal parts educator, advocate, and specialist.

In a world where answers to every imaginable health question are only an Internet search away, pharmacists and other health care providers have a responsibility to help their patients wade through all the information that is available. With the right health care team, a patient tempted to self-diagnose by Google or drowning in too much information about their condition can instead become an informed participant in their own health care experience. Patient counseling and education holds implications not only for better overall care, but also for the future of compounding pharmacies.1

Working Together Toward a Prescription Is a Teaching Opportunity

The myth persists even today that pharmacists are little more than order takers who blindly fulfill a doctor’s prescription, and that compound pharmacists do so in an unconventional way. The reality of modern health care is that compounding returns pharmacology to the roots of the profession, prioritizing individualized patient care, and finding the best possible treatments. Meanwhile, the pharmacist herself is a crucial member of a patient’s health care team, working alongside primary care physicians and specialists to formulate the best overall treatment plan for specific patients and specific conditions.

As part of that health care team, compounding pharmacists have the opportunity to not only fulfill the basic requirements of a pharmacist to ensure his patient understands how to properly use prescribed medication, but to provide patient counseling on pharmacology as part of the patient’s entire treatment regimen.2

Pharmacists are required to provide a level of patient counseling upon filling a prescription. Traditionally, this consists of instructions on how to safely and properly take the medication—first in person and then helpfully repeated on the printed medication label. Such a brief and impersonal interaction rarely offers a chance to educate a patient on why they’re being prescribed the medication and its role in their overall health plan, important knowledge points that may not have been covered by the prescribing physician.

Not all patients will be familiar with what compound medication is or how it may differ from something they may have taken before. It’s the job of the compound pharmacist to explain clearly why the compound medication is being used and its benefits—perhaps a topical cream has been prescribed due to the patient’s difficulty swallowing pills—a process which can reduce stigma and confusion around compound medication.3

For compounding pharmacies that primarily provide compound medication to hospitals and who might not have direct patient contact, educating hospital staff is key to ensuring that patients understand the role compound medication is playing in their treatment and how to properly dose.4

Happy Patients Are Advocates for Compound Pharmacology

It will come as no surprise to professionals in the compounding pharmacy arena that compounding still faces an uphill battle in the realm of public perception and with regulatory agencies. Health care professionals and patients who rely on compounding to provide superior and individualized patient care are aware of the many merits of compounding, and compounding pharmacists are acutely aware that compounding actually predates all other forms of pharmacology. Missteps and lack of compliance by some in the industry cast a long shadow, but patient counseling and education could hold the solution to spreading public support of compound medication.5

Health care is becoming increasingly individualized. Once patients and the public understand that reputable compounding pharmacies, like all reputable health care organizations, have stringent quality control measures and are governed by specific guidelines designed to maximize patient safety, compounding becomes the clear answer to the modern health care question: how do we take better care of a diverse population with chronic and acute conditions that cannot be addressed in a “one-size-fits-all” model?6

A compounding pharmacist who spends time educating physicians, nurses, specialists and patients about compound medication can influence the industry and public perception toward compounding immeasurably. Patient counseling as outlined in pharmacology school and by pharmacy operating manuals is a necessary step to making sure patients are safe with medication—but patient counseling as part of a health care team to help the patient understand the big picture could change the course of the profession.

Pharmaceutica North America is a leading provider of high-quality active pharmaceutical ingredients and custom compounding kits to compound pharmacies and physicians. Contact us to learn more about our products and the ways we can help you deliver the best possible patient care.

Show 6 footnotes

  1. “Total Number of Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies,” accessed Dec. 8, 2015,; “2014 New Drug Approvals Hit 18-Year High,” Jan. 2, 2015,
  2. “Pharmacists’ impact on public health,” Aug. 15, 2013,
  3. “ASHP Guidelines on Pharmacist-Conducted Patient Education and Counseling,” accessed Dec. 8, 2015,
  4. “Compounded medications in a hospital setting: patient counseling and staff education,” May 2009,
  5. “Educating the caregiver and community pharmacist to facilitate provision of consistent compounded medications from the inpatient to ambulatory settings,” Sept. 2003,
  6. “Pharmacy dispensing and patient counseling,” April 10, 2015,,1

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