The History of Compounding

The practice of preparing medications dates back to the origins of pharmacy; yet, compounding's presence throughout the pharmacy profession has changed over the years. In the 1930s and 1940s, approximately 60 percent of all medications were compounded. During the 1950s and 60s, with the advent of manufacturing, compounding declined. The pharmacist's role as a preparer of medications quickly changed to that of a dispenser of manufactured dosage forms.

In the 1980s, and especially in the 90s, physicians and patients again began realizing the benefits of preparing customized medications to meet specific patient needs. Today, an estimated 0.7 to one percent of all prescriptions are compounded daily.

All pharmacies and pharmacists are licensed and strictly regulated by State Boards of Pharmacy. Compounding is a core component of pharmacy and has always been subject to the oversight and monitoring of these agencies and the state legislatures who decide upon the way pharmacy compounding should be regulated within their borders. Additionally, the Food & Drug Administration has authority over some aspects of compounded prescriptions at the federal level under the direction of Congress.

Standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) are integrated into the day-to-day practice of pharmacy compounding and are mandated by law in most states. Even greater oversight comes through accreditation from a variety of non-profit agencies that establish and survey on guidelines designed to improve quality in the compounding process.