What are compounded medicines and when might they be beneficial?

Posted: Jul 20 2021

We are all unique, with our own genetic and lifestyle health factors. So, it makes sense that sometimes our medication needs to be adjusted for our individual needs. That’s where compounded medicines come in.


Compounded medicines are tailor-made, individualised medications made for you by your pharmacist from raw ingredients as prescribed by your doctor. The prescription will generally detail individual ingredients and strengths that are tailored to work to a person’s specific medical requirements. Your doctor may prescribe a compounded medicine if:

  • the product you need doesn't exist or isn’t available;
  • you require a specialised strength or dosage form which is not available;
  • you have allergies to the ingredients in the commercially available products.

Darren Searle, Pharmacy Manager at Terry White Chemmart Marden Compounding says he most often sees hormone replacement therapy (HRT), dermatological (skin) treatments and paediatric medicines needing to be dispensed as a compounded medicine. They also make some items for IVF and pain conditions. Sterile eye drops, implants and injectable medicines are other items that can also be compounded in a sterile compounding facility.

“We make compounded medicines, by hand, in our custom compounding lab,” Darren says. “For some formulations, such as creams and capsules, we have devices to assist with the process.”

These medicines can come in many forms, such as:

  • creams/ointments
  • liquids/solutions
  • capsules
  • troches (a lozenge which dissolves in the mouth).
  • pessaries and suppositories
  • injections

Compounded medicines provide additional options for people who might need a drug in a dosage that differs from the standard amount available, or who are unable to take particular medications in their commercial form.

“For example, if someone has problems swallowing tablets, we can provide a liquid form of a medication where only tablets usually exist,” Darren says. “With the doctor's involvement, we can also customise a dosage form or strength for people who need a specialised dosage.”

Darren suggests that if you want compounded medicine for any reason, then it's worth finding a doctor who has experience in this area. “Often specialists or GPs who have a particular interest in certain health conditions will be familiar with compounded medicines,” Darren says. “Also, only a small number of pharmacies, such as ours at Marden, actually make compounded items on site, as we need a specialised lab which most pharmacies don't have. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have this, then it is possible they might act as a collection point, and will send their prescriptions to a compounding pharmacy to be made.”

If a commercially identical product is available, then the pharmacy is not allowed to create a compounded medicine version. But for circumstances where you require an individualised prescription item, it can be a very beneficial option. Check with your general practitioner as to whether compounded medicine is suitable for your situation.

Health Partners Extras members can claim benefits towards prescription compounded medicines* under their pharmacy benefits. On eligible covers, you’ll only pay up to $40 per prescription, with the gap covered up to your annual limit. Call us on 1300 113 113 to check your pharmacy limit and ensure you have the appropriate level of cover to access the benefit.

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*Does not include compounded vitamins or general skincare.

Posted: Jul 20 2021


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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