Local Physician says customized, Compounded Medication has a place in Modern Medicine

Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 10:56 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The return of compounded medication in modern medicine.

Rows of medications and vitamins are what you typically find at any traditional pharmacy, but that’s not the case at a special kind of pharmacy we found here locally. They customize medications for patients with specific strengths targeting the individual’s needs.

So how does this work and is it effective? In this KGNS News “On Your Side” report, we take a closer look at what’s called Compounded Medication.

“I was skeptical about it and thought to myself, ‘here we go—another cream’ because I had tried other creams that doctors had told me about,” said Carol Postell. Carol Carol suffers from arthritis and chronic back pain from an injury she sustained years ago. It’s agonizing pain that drove her to try almost every over-the-counter medication and traditional prescription medication available. Still, nothing worked, until she went to see Dr. John Puig who prescribed for her something different.

“As a doctor, he said, ‘look carol, it has this and double of this,’ I don’t remember all the medicines he told me, I just knew there were a lot.” Desperate for relief, Carol had the prescription filled, and the results were almost instantaneous.

“It was like a miracle in a bottle!” said Carol. “I put it on and as soon as I rubbed it on my back, it was like the pain went away. It absorbed into my skin and the pain went away.”

Years of pain gone within minutes—all from a medication that was mixed specifically for her pain.

With results like that, can anyone have custom medications made for them? According to Dr. Puig, the answer is ‘yes.’

“I think it’s something that comes down to number one: patient need, number two: patient availability, and number three: physician comfort level with using the medication,” Dr. Puig explained. A comfort level he says because the physician must know exactly what his or her patient needs, and then prescribe the formula to the compounding pharmacist to make.

“Often, it’s a directed prescription where we’ll tell the pharmacist exactly what medicine we want them to use,” said Dr. Puig. “Sometimes they may have a proprietary blend of medications that’s worked better in the past with certain strengths of certain types of medicines.” In other words, Compounded Medication prescriptions differ from traditional retail medications, such as those found at big retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, because the pharmacist is not only able to customize the ingredients that go into the medication, but can also customize the strength of each of those ingredients. So how are these medications made, and more importantly, what steps are taken to ensure they meet FDA guidelines? Kelley Garcia, PharmD, the licensed compound pharmacist who mixed Carol’s medication, explains the process.

“Every product we use in making medications is an FDA approved product,” says Dr. Garcia. “Each capsule also must be within a certain percentage of the medication formula we use, and after making the medication and placing it into the capsules, we then have the capsules tested at an independent lab to make sure everything is accurate. We also measure each individual capsule before giving it to the patient to make sure the correct amount of medication is inside. There’s just many different points where we check our product before we dispense it out to the patient.”

Compounded Medication—or custom medication—is nothing new in the pharmacy industry. In fact, this was the way medication was made back in the 1800′s, under the name Apothecaries, but those fell to the wayside decades ago as pharmaceutical companies began creating standard medications that were easier and faster to dispense.

Dr. Puig, however, believes Compounded Medication does have a place in modern medicine, saying he’s happy to see it making a comeback.

“We’ve done it in the past, and had success, but it was very cost prohibitive,” Dr. Puig explains. “Now that the cost has come way down with these medications, we’ve been able to get back to using them, and I’ve had a lot of success stories—much like with my patient Carol.”

A sentiment echoed by patient Carol.

“It’s an unbelievable cream,” she said. “I call it my miracle in a jar, and I believe it is the wave of the future. I think it’s worth it and people need to open their eyes and really believe in it.”

Compounding pharmacies in Texas are regulated by the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. According to them, in 2021, less than one percent of the more than 6-thousand complaints received by the agency were related to Compounded Medication.

To see the complete report, click here: https://www.pharmacy.texas.gov/files_pdf/Annual_Report_2021.pdf

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