2017-09-10 / Health

Personalized medicines may be the future of healthcare

When a person feels ill, his or her doctor may assess any symptoms and then prescribe a particular medication to treat or alleviate those symptoms. Doctors prescribe medications hoping to treat sickness, but sometimes prescriptions fall short, leaving some to wonder if prescription medications could be customized more for individual needs? The science is already here.

Making specialized drugs is not a new concept. Prior to the rise of drug manufacturing companies, early pharmacists routinely customized ingredients. According to Professional Compounding Centers of America, customized medications are created through a process known as pharmacy compounding, which is defined as the art and science of preparing personalized medications for patients.

Specialized pharmacists take a practitioner’s prescription and mix individual ingredients together in the exact dosage and strength required. Compounding may be done to change the form of the medication from a pill to a liquid or to remove a certain additive or ingredient, such as gluten, that might cause an allergic reaction. The American Pharmacists Association says that compounding also can be used to flavor a medication in an effort to make it more palatable.

Compounded drugs can be just as safe as mass-produced prescriptions. And thanks to their tailor-made formulas, compounded medications also may help people avoid side effects and other adverse reactions. Compounding gives physicians flexibility in regard to how to best help their patients.

Compounding is done in hospital pharmacies and other healthcare facilities. There also are thousands of community-based pharmacies in the United States that specialize in compounding services. Pharmacists in these facilities spend all of their time making special preparations.

All pharmacists and pharmacies engaged in compounding are subject to oversight by both federal and state authorities. On November 27, 2013, Congress amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by enacting the Drug Quality and Security Act to ensure that compounded drugs are produced in accordance with applicable federal requirements. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities helps to oversee compounding in Canada. Preparations of products are subject to the Food and Drug Act and Regulations, Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, and inspection by Health Canada.

Pharmaceutical compounding may not be new, but it is increasingly relied on to create the best formulations for individual patients.

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