Pharmaceutical Apothecary: Frequently Asked Questions And Answers

The word "apothecary" is an old term that refers to a person who mixes and dispenses medicine. However, in modern times, the word apothecary means something very different. Not many people know what apothecaries are or what they do. These frequently asked questions can help you understand what modern apothecaries do and how they can help you. 

What's the difference between an apothecary and a traditional pharmacy?

Pharmacies dispense drugs prescribed by physicians. Apothecaries, also known as compounding pharmacies, are similar to conventional pharmacies but for one very important difference: apothecaries mix specialized drugs that are not conventionally available for consumers. These medicines are tailored to the needs of the individual and are created based on prescriptions from the doctor. This might mean that the apothecary mixes a combination of multiple medicines, creates a liquid form of a medicine that is normally available as a pill, or creates a dosage for a medicine that is not normally available. 

Compound pharmacies also create very specialized therapies, like hormone replacement therapies that have been designed to mimic a person's specific balance of hormones and replace those hormones as precisely as possible.

Who benefits from the medicines made by apothecaries?

The type of patients who benefit from compounded medicines includes:

  • patients with allergies to certain dyes used in medicines
  • patients with trouble taking medicine by conventional means
  • elderly and very young patients
  • anyone who doesn't fit inside the expected parameters for patient needs and behavior. 

How can a patient know the drugs from compounding pharmacies are safe?

Everything that is created in a compounding pharmacy is created for the specific needs of the individual. In addition, compounding pharmacies are regulated by as many as three government agencies: the FDA, DEA and state boards of pharmacy. In addition to the fact that these drugs are controlled and checked for quality, they are also made by qualified pharmacists. 

Is it possible to take a compounded drug and not even know it?

No. Prescriptions for compounded drugs must be filled at compounding pharmacies. You cannot get a compounded drug at a typical pharmacy. 

How can a person get a compounded drug if it's desired?

If you think a compounded drug could help you manage a condition that you have, speak with your doctor about trying a compounded drug. He or she can write you a prescription if it's appropriate. For more information about how compounded drugs could benefit you, speak with your physician or contact an apothecary, such as Potter's House Apothecary, Inc, today.