Many of us grew up being told never to question people in authority – teachers, church ministers, politicians and doctors were high on that list. However thankfully today we know that people in positions of authority are human, just like the rest of us, and not infallible. Unlike in the past, we’re now encouraged to ‘get a second, and a third opinion’ if we feel something’s not right. And we’re encouraged to speak up and ask questions if we’re unsure of a situation or believe we might have a better solution.
There’s always something new to learn
As highly educated as they are, even doctors can’t be expected to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all subjects. That’s simply not reasonable. A good doctor knows there’s always something new to learn; that there’s always room for improving one’s knowledge on any given subject. A good doctor asks questions and is always receptive to having questions asked of them.
Doctors have a lot to master when they go through medical school. The focus is on the human body, how it works and what to do when things go wrong. As with every profession, medical students study what they plan to specialise in. However this necessary focus on their core learning means than most student doctors spend no more than a few weeks studying the area of pharmacy. As a result, some doctors are unaware that there are other options, outside of commercially manufactured drugs, when it comes to prescribing medications. One of these options is compounded medication.
What is compounded medication?
Once upon a time all medication was compounded, meaning it was made by hand, from scratch, by the pharmacist using ingredients as prescribed by a qualified doctor. However in the 1960s commercial drug manufacturing became a dominant force in healthcare and old-fashioned compounding pharmacies became a thing of the past.
But not quite.
Some compounding pharmacies survived and still operate in most cites around the world as they continue to fill a very important need in healthcare. Commercially manufactured drugs suit most of the people most of the time, however the one size-fits-all formula may not be the best solution for people who:
- have allergies to dyes, fillers and preservatives used in some manufactured drugs
- are unable to swallow pills (very young infants for example) and require medication in liquid form.
- can no longer buy their medication due to the manufacturer ceasing production or when demand has outstripped supply.
- require medication to be flavoured to make it easier to administer to someone in their care (the very young or the very elderly for example).
Does any of this sound like you?
If you believe you may have an allergy to your medication; if you have difficulty swallowing pills or if you’re medication has been discontinued or is no longer available, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about the possibility of using a compounding chemist. If they’re a good doctor (and they must be good or you wouldn’t continue seeing them) they will be happy to hear your questions and advise whether compounded medication is suitable for your situation. If you’re doctor is unfamiliar with compounding, encourage them to visit this website or call our Head Pharmacist, Matthew Bellgrove on 1300 731 755 for an informal chat.
It never hurts to ask the question, and your doctor just might appreciate the tip!