What Are Compounding Pharmacies?

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Studies have developed a number of options for menopause treatments

Developments in medical treatments for menopause over the past two decades have led to an increased number of options for women who just can't take hot flashes and low libido any more. But what if these medicines are potentially dangerous, doing more harm than good to your body?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with some physicians denied compounding pharmacies the ability to distribute bioidentical hormones. Read on to find out how this treatment option could or not harm you.

What Are Bioidentical Hormones?

In recent years, bioidentical hormones have become a popular alternative to traditional, synthetic hormones prescribed by physicians to battle the symptoms of menopause. Bioidentical hormones are extracted from plants and then chemically altered in a laboratory to mimic the actions of hormones found in the human body.

Why Do Compounding Pharmacies Distribute Bioidentical Hormones?

Many women rely on compounding pharmacies.

Although it is a common occurrence for doctors to prescribe bioidentical hormones to their patients, some women prefer to go to these pharmacies to have their prescriptions made up, because these can create compounds specifically for patient's unique needs.

Traditionally, they help change medications to make them easier for the patient to take. For example, they may make a pill into a liquid or chewable tablet to make it easier to swallow. These pharmacies also remove ingredients from medications that the patient may be allergic to, as long as the ingredient doesn't affect the potency of the medicine.

Now with the rise of bioidentical hormones, many women rely on pharmacies to prepare mixtures of hormones specific to their needs, which cannot be altered at a regular pharmacy.

Why Is There Debate about Compounding Pharmacies?

The debate centers more on compounding pharmacies practice of mixing non-regulated medications rather than their existence. The FDA acknowledges the usefulness of these institutions for patients; however, some makers of bioidentical hormones make untrue and unsafe claims about the effects of their medications, and use substances not tested by the FDA, because they face no regulatory mandates. For example, this type of HRT often employs estriol, a type of estrogen of which the effects on humans have not been properly documented.

Why Do Some Women Prefer Using Pharmaceutical Compounding?

Bioidentical hormones may seem like a safer bet for menopausal women

At first glance, bioidentical hormones distributed by certain pharmacies may seem like a safer bet for women. It is true that their use may lessen or prevent certain health problems associated with menopause, such as depression and hot flashes.

However, it is important to remember that these hormones, although derived from plants, are still considered man-made substances because they are chemically altered. In addition, the FDA and many healthcare providers maintain that because these hormones are not tested and their long-term effects have not been studied, it is irresponsible for pharmacies to continue provide them.

More Information about Bioidentical Hormones

Whether bioidentical or synthetic, hormone replacement therapy can have dangerous side effects, such as an increased risk of certain reproductive cancers. Click on the following link to learn more about the different alternatives to bioidentical hormones.

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