Saturday, January 31, 2009

Compounded Hormones

In the last few years, a practice known as compounding hormones-compounded hormones has been widely used. Compounding essentially means mixing two or more drugs by a pharmacist. The pharmacist may compound the drugs as recommended by a physician but legally is not allowed to dispense this product without authorization. For decades compounding was widely used by many pharmacies to make tailor made drugs for certain individuals. However, with better formulations made by the pharmaceutical industry, compounding went out of vogue in the 80s and 90s

Today, compounding of drugs is done for small children or certain elderly individuals who require specific drugs or dosages which are not commercially available. Today, compounded drugs only account for about 1% of the total number of drugs prescribed.

The pharmacist usually gets a prescription from the physician indicating the exact dose of each drug that is to be mixed. The compounding is not a long process and entails making the formulation such that is can be used. If it is for oral use, then the formulation must be made palatable. If the formulation is a paste, it is made such that it can be applied easily as a cream. Many compounded hormones come with stabilizers and flavoring agents.

Unlike North America compounding pharmacies are widely popular in Europe where patients always ask for certain formulas of drugs. Of course, compounding also costs more to the consumer.

In recent years compounded hormones have also been formulated for women entering menopause. With the new salivary testing of hormones, many consumers now want the pharmacists to compound hormones to ensure that they are getting the right dosages and a proper mix of the drugs.

While compounded hormones are of importance to a select few individuals, there are lots of questions about compounding hormones. Todate, there are no studies on compounded hormones and no one knows what the long term effects of these formulations. So far the safety of compounded hormones has not been proven largely in part because there have been no clinical trials.

The FDA has strongly emphasized that all pharmacies and physicians who are involved in the business of compounded hormones keep a registry to track all patients and determine if they develop adverse effects over the long term. All individuals who do use compounded hormones should always be monitored under the guidance of a health care professional to ensure there are no complications.

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