Specialist Pharmacy


Compounding – Personalised Medicine at its best.

Author: Salim Ouhadj


As the pharmaceutical industry’s ‘one size fits all’ approach increasingly fails to meet the distinct requirements of each individual patient, the importance of custom-made medications is becoming more prevalent and more relevant than ever. Therefore, although not a new concept, the compounding pharmacy industry is experiencing a significant resurgence.

Compounding, however, is still relatively new in the UK. At Specialist Pharmacy we pride ourselves to be one of the first pharmacies in the UK who have been able to reintroduce this practice. The common misconception that compounding pharmacies are not regulated, and the quality of the medication is not up to scratch could not be further from the truth. In the below piece we’ve put together a 101 on the process of compounding to ensure you feel informed and empowered about the medication you are taking.

Firstly, a bit of history
Pharmaceutical compounding is the creation of a particular medication to fit the unique needs of a patient. In essence, it is personalised medicine at its best. It dates back to the origins of pharmacy itself, with the first documented compounding processes being observed from ancient Egyptian civilisation. Almost 1,500 years before the biblical Magi brought gifts of frankincense and myrrh to Bethlehem, the ancient Egyptians included in them their vast materia medica. On record there are some 2,000 prescriptions with 134 plants and 90 active pharmaceutical ingredients, many of which are still relevant in modern day pharmacy.

It was originally very common for doctors to both prescribe and compound a patient’s medication themselves. It was only in the late 19th century that we began to see a very clear distinction between the role of a doctor and that of a pharmacist. The pharmacist’s role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms and the need for compounding pharmacies diminished due to the advent of mass medication production by the pharmaceutical industry in the 20th Century.

The compounding process
The compounding process starts by ensuring that each and every formulation being created for an individual patient is checked by a Specialist Compounding Pharmacist who will ensure that the different pharmaceutical ingredients are all compatible with each other as well as the vehicles (cream, lozenge etc) they are mixed with. This skill is quite unique as it draws on specific knowledge in pharmaceutical chemistry and formulation science. The preparation process is electronically tracked from beginning to end with checks being performed at each stage with weighing scales, specialist computer software and the operators themselves. It really is an art of perfection; each personalised formulation needs to be within a couple of degrees of the perfect formula otherwise the whole process needs to be started again.

We are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council and adhere to all regulatory requirements and the Good Practice Guidance. Quality assurance and accuracy checking are at the heart of every single step in every process. Our compounding operators are all trained in Pharmaceutical Science and adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) – which is an EU-wide industry standard. When prepared, every bespoke formulation or dosage form is quality checked by a pharmacist and the accuracy inspected by a specialist technician against the doctor’s prescription before being delivered to your doorstep.

Customer satisfaction is important to us and we strive to continually improve our processes by listening to feedback. As always, our specialist staff at Specialist Pharmacy are here to provide customised solutions to your unique needs. If you have any questions for us about the compounding process please do get in touch on info@specialist-pharmacy.com.

Back to other blog stories