Local News

Compounding Helps The Medicine Go Down

Posted April 23, 2001 3:02 a.m. EDT

— Buying medicine can be a lot like buying clothes. You get some selection of brands and sizes, but the fit or color is not quite right.Compounding specialists can make a big difference by tailoring medications to your needs and taste.

Some local pharmacists are practicing the lost art of compounding to deliver medication the way patients need it. The specially-trained pharmacists blend medications by hand to suit individual needs.

"We can change dosage forms and dosage amounts daily if need be, because these doses are all customized specifically for each patient," says Gary Glisson, a compounding specialist at Ward Drug in Nashville.

Compounding includes the active ingredients and how they get into your body.

"We use a lot of the drugs that are basically available to everyone else or chemicals that are available to everyone else," says Glisson. "We don't use any special drugs really, but we are dosage form experts, and we can take [the drug] and put it in the proper form dosage form to get it into the patient whether the patient is human or animal. We have a lot of animal patients."

If your pet will not take pills, medication can be prepared so it can be rubbed in the ears or spread on the fur.

Flavoring is another big part of compounding. "Obviously if you can't get the patient to take the medication, it does not do any good," says Glisson.

Cough syrup that tastes like watermelon or marshmallow-flavored pain relievers are not just for kids; adults like them, too.

Compounding pharmacists work to find the best dosage and delivery of the drug, no matter who the patient is.

"We have put medication into a rat and fed it to a snake to get it in there," says Glisson. He says no request is "too strange."

Michelle Singer