A veterinary pharmacy provides over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals for animal patients from sterile injectables and ophthalmics to nonsterile oral, topical, and transdermal medications. Commercially available pharmaceuticals often fit the needs of veterinary patients, but sometimes issues arise that impede an animal from taking the drug of choice. A veterinary pharmacy might specialize in individualized pharmaceutical therapies to address such dosing problems. Such facilities are called compounding pharmacies and are operated per state and federal regulations by specially trained pharmacists and technicians.
Compounding is the extemporaneous preparation of a customized pharmaceutical by prescription order from a licensed practitioner. Compounders work in a triad relationship between patient, practitioner, and pharmacist to troubleshoot medication problems and provide individualized therapy to promote the desired health care outcome. In the veterinary realm, compounders can tailor-make drugs for many animals, except for food and food-producing animals per state and federal regulations. What kinds of animals might benefit from compounding? Pets, performance animals, work animals, rescued wildlife, exotics, and more.
Several factors, working singularly or in combination, can contribute to patient noncompliance with the preferred pharmaceutical. A medication might have an unpalatable taste, texture, or scent. The route of administration might need tweaking (such as changing from a tablet to an oral liquid) or rerouting altogether (such as switching from a tablet to a transdermal gel). The preferred therapy might be on temporary back-order or manufacturer discontinued, or the commercially available drug might be too strong for smaller patients (available only in an unscored tablet that cannot be split accurately, for example). Last but not least, the commercially available pharmaceutical might contain irritants or allergens that could be eliminated.
Some of the most frequently requested veterinary compounds include transdermal gels and palatable liquid medications containing active ingredients like methimazole and metronidazole, prescribed often for hard-to-dose cats. Pergolide capsules for horses are also in high demand. Potassium bromide capsules and solutions are also frequently requested. Since the economic downturn, specialty pharmacies have been busy compounding pharmaceuticals that are FDA approved but on temporary back-order or manufacturer discontinued.
When choosing a veterinary compounding pharmacy, one should ask several questions. How long has the pharmacy been in business? Does it charge for shipping? Is the facility licensed to dispense in your state? Does the pharmacy offer compound price matching? Does the pharmacy have a sterile clean room for compounding injectables and ophthalmics?
A veterinary compounding pharmacy can be a helpful partner for practitioners and patients in promoting desired health care outcomes through individualized pharmaceutical therapy.