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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Using a Compounding Pharmacy

Apr 27, 2012 12:10PM ● By Christine Givant

Every woman requires a different approach to feeling her best in perimenopause and menopause. Because women have different journeys that often require customized combinations of treatments, many women receive their medications from a compounding pharmacy.

Compounding pharmacies specialize in the preparation of medications by mixing raw ingredients to formulate a medication that is made exclusively for a patient based on a prescription from a physician. Traditional pharmacies dispense commercial medications manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. Compounding pharmacies can dispense commercial medications as well as compound medications. All pharmacies (compounding and traditional) are regulated by the State Board of Pharmacies in their respective states. However, no pharmacy is regulated by the FDA. Reputable compounding pharmacies use ingredients that are sourced from an FDA-approved chemical house.

Benefits of a Compounding Pharmacy

We are not a “one-size-fits-all” society. Each woman is unique and has specific health considerations as she ages. Therefore, a woman’s treatment must be personalized to address her individual health requirements. Physicians use compounding pharmacies to customize a woman’s prescription to meet her unique health needs. Although there are commercially available bio-identical hormones, they are only available in limited dosages and forms. If a physician’s protocol requires a different dosage form, she/he will prescribe a compounded medication formulated exclusively for the patient. There are other ingredients that may need to be included and/or combined in a treatment regime that are only available from a compounding pharmacy. For example, Estriol is a bio-identical hormone that is not available commercially.

How to Know a True Compound Pharmacy

There is a significant difference between pharmacies that compound and a true compounding pharmacy. It’s very important to make sure the pharmacy compounding your medication knows what they are doing and formulating in an environment that is conducive to producing a quality outcome. If a pharmacy has its PCAB (The Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board) accreditation, it is legitimate. It adheres to the “Principles of Compounding,” its product’s potency is ensured through formal testing, its operating procedures are regulated and approved, its facilities exceed inspection standards, its lab design and equipment is of highest quality and safety, its personnel is trained properly, it buys from FDA-approved chemical houses, and its physicians prescribe the highest-quality compounds with confidence.

Christine Givant, RPh, and Deb Hubers are co-founders of La Vita Compounding Pharmacy. Learn more at

The following are some good questions to ask the pharmacy:
1. Do they have a sterile clean room?
2. Do they send out formulations to a third party for potency and stability testing?
3. What training does their staff have in compounding?
4. How many years have they been compounding medications?
5. What equipment do they use to compound medications?
6. Do they mill their creams?
7. Are they certified or accredited by their national organization?
8. Ask the pharmacy if they allow visitors. Patients can learn a significant amount about how their medication is prepared by visiting the pharmacy. If you can’t make a site visit, ask for pictures of the lab.
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