Compounding pharmacies work to create pharmaceutical products which are specifically designed to fit the unique needs of each patient. They specialise in preparing and dispensing bespoke pharmaceutical products to patients who cannot or do not want to (for whatever reason) take standard, mass produced medication. Many consumers are turning to these pharmacies because they have previously had problems with standard prescription drugs.Because the compounded prescription medications that they sell are different from those that are already available on the rest of the market, some consumers may be worried about whether or not using a compounding pharmacy is safe. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have stated that compounding is perfectly legal and ethical so long as the pharmacy is fully licensed and the pharmacist who carried out the compounding is also fully trained and licensed.Because of the potential health implications associated with all medicinal drugs, compounding pharmaceuticals is a heavily regulated business, and the FDA and individual state boards of pharmacy have introduced strict guidelines to help ensure that customers and patients using these compounding pharmacies should remain safe. All bulk drug substances that are used in these types of pharmacies should be on an approved-list of substances that it is legal and safe to compound with. Any previously marketed substances which have been proven to be ineffective or unsafe do not make the approved-list of substances suitable for compounding. Pharmacists are not supposed to compound with any substance that is not on the approved-list. Although many states do not require practices to report any newly discovered side-effects associated with compounded drugs, ethical pharmacies will voluntarily report them.The compounding pharmacy itself is also subject to strict guidelines, as well as the substances that they compound with. The pharmacy must meet high quality control standards and each individual laboratory must meet strict facility guidelines, to ensure safety and consistency in each batch of drugs produced. Pharmacies in America are regulated by individual “state boards of pharmacy”, and therefore each state has slightly different sets of regulations. It is possible to check with the board of pharmacy in your state if you are still unsure. Inspectors from the state board will carry out regular checks on licensed pharmacies and random sampling checks may be carried out on batches of drugs that are being dispensed to check the safety and potency.Pharmacists who practice in compounding pharmacies are heavily regulated as well. They must be fully trained and licensed in order to dispense medicine that they have compounded, so that they are able to fully understand the drugs that they are making.If you still have doubts, you can contact your chosen pharmacy and they will be able to explain the standards, testing and quality control exercises that are used by their practice in order to ensure the safety of their customers. If you are in any doubt, you do not have to use that pharmacy. Remember that it is the interest of pharmacies to ensure that their products are safe, legal, ethical and effective.
The health care industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. for almost two decades, and there is no sign of a slowdown. When you consider demographic factors such as the baby boomer generation continuing to age, and the Affordable Care Act is projected to give nearly 20 million Americans access to the health care system, together with the fact that pharmaceutical industry is constantly developing new and more effective medications, continued growth in the health care industry is a given.Positions for pharmacy technicians are expected to increase by 32 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that around 100,000 new jobs will be added by 2020 to the 350,000 already employed as pharmacy techs in 2012.Pharmacy Technician TrainingA high school diploma is generally required to become a pharmacy technician, and employers typically prefer candidates with some post-secondary education, ideally a pharmacy technician certificate. A few employers will hire inexperienced persons and train on the job, but most pharmacists prefer to hire pharmacy techs who have already been through a formal training program.The training programs can be found at vocational schools and community colleges, many with online education options. These programs typically take six to 12 months and include classes in the math used in pharmacies, recordkeeping and bookkeeping, dispensing medications, sanitation and safety, as well as pharmacy law. The technicians are required to learn the names, actions, uses and doses of common medications.Certification and LicensingCertification is attestation to your skills and knowledge in pharmacy technology by an independent third party organization. Two national organizations offer pharmacy tech certification: The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association. Both certifications require graduating from an accredited training program and passing a comprehensive exam covering all aspects of pharmacy technology.Nearly all states require some form of licensing or registration for pharmacy technicians. A few states just require a high school diploma and a background check for registration; other states require graduation from a formal training program, a background check and passing a comprehensive exam to become licensed as a pharmacy tech.Pharmacy Tech Pay and ProspectsThe BLS reports that pharmacy technicians earned a median salary of $29,320 in 2012. Those employed at outpatient care centers earned the most, taking home an average salary of $38,750 in 2012. Those, who work in doctor’s offices and at college and university health centers are also on the high end of the pay scale, both averaging around $37,000. Techs working for department stores are at the lower end of the salary scale, only averaging $27,750 in 2012.The sky is the limit in terms of career advancement for pharmacy techs. Given the great demand for pharmacy techs, pharmacists are going to be looking out for up-and-comers to promote to more responsible position. Some technicians enjoy working in the industry so much they decide to go back to school to become a pharmacist. Earning your Pharm.D.would likely requires at least an additional five to six years of education, but your reward is a tripling of your earning power (pharmacist median salary of $116,670 in 2012).