For many years, pharmacy has typically been a career option for students educated in the sciences: premed, dentistry, or nursing. Now, with the emergence of the health care field as a viable career option, pharmacy is becoming a very popular choice for students who are pursuing degrees in the social sciences, humanities, or education.
Pharmacists are in a unique position to diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. For instance, their basic role is to advise on the choice of medication and dispense it to patients. They can also offer a variety of other services, including giving advice on diet and lifestyle and providing treatment for certain psychological problems. Many pharmacies have a dedicated pharmacy department, and some have branch or regional dispensing pharmacies.
Pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists should consider the role of pharmacists in health care delivery outside of traditional pharmacy services.
Patients have increasing options available to them when choosing a pharmacy. They can turn to the traditional Pharmacy, Compounding Pharmacy, or Clinical Pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. However, while each of these options has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, there are also some considerations that apply to all. It is increasingly apparent that pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists should consider the role of pharmacists in health care delivery outside of traditional pharmacy services. An expanding “compounding” industry has caused pharmacists to consider the future and the needs of others beyond their own narrow area of specialty. This growing profession has grown beyond its origins as a simple collection of compounding, compounding services, and compounding pharmaceuticals. Today, the term compounding pharmacy, which was once used as an umbrella term, has expanded to include many diverse and unique opportunities and benefits. For instance, today’s profession offers pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device development, along with the application of advanced pharmacy theories and methods to those fields of practice.
The term compounding pharmacist is not limited to pharmacy practice in a specific country. In countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, and China, a number of pharmaceutical companies are involved in the compounding of pharmaceuticals both at medical centers and in private practice. The practice of Compounding and Clinical Pharmacy have grown together.
Compounded medicines are manufactured from either active drug substance or from active pharmaceutical ingredients and compounded with selected inactive ingredients for delivery to the consumer.
In this article, we will look at two popular health care career paths: compounding vs clinical pharmacy, each with a different approach to providing care. This comparison will help health care professionals gain an understanding of where they’ll fit in the health care system. Clinical pharmacy is the area of pharmacy concerned with the science and practice of rational medication use. This branch is concerned with the delivery of safe and effective pharmaceuticals, especially in health care and disease states. Whereas, pharmacists who focus on compounding are concerned with the preparations of drugs from raw materials such as herbal medications, plant extracts, and specific drug substances or active ingredients.
Compounding Pharmacy is where specific medicines are made to order for individual patients by qualified pharmacists. This practice is becoming increasingly popular, and it is certainly a growing business.
Compounding Pharmacies may have a strong impact on many aspects of patient’s health. Compounded medicines are manufactured from either active drug substance or from active pharmaceutical ingredients and compounded with selected inactive ingredients for delivery to the consumer. They are formulated to contain the medication active ingredient that is typically used by the physician in conjunction with a dosage and formulation appropriate to patient needs.
Compounding Pharmacy is where specific medicines are made to order for individual patients by qualified pharmacists. Not only that, but it can relieve the burden on the pharmacists to screen and select the most appropriate medications for their patients. For example, any compounded prescription (made-to-order) could be made 100% safe for patients allergic to a specific component and eliminating the allergenic ingredient that is present in an identical marketed formulation.
Benefits of Compounding Pharmacy
Since more and more patients are opting and wanting to receive their medication prescription from a compounding pharmacist, these compounding pharmacist are in high demand and make a great source for patients’ health problems.
1. Better Medication Selection
By prescribing certain medicines, a pharmacist may not have the ability to be able to help those who have certain medical conditions such as kidney failure or liver cirrhosis, a diabetic, pregnant or elderly patients with low blood pressure, or those who are allergic to some of the active ingredients of the medications.
If a patient is facing a life-threatening medical condition, or have a difficult time handling certain medications, they can always turn to a compounding pharmacist for the medications that are needed in the short term or that are needed for a few weeks.
2. Save Time
By having a compounding pharmacist write the entire prescription tailor-made considering patient’s history. Sometimes, it completely eliminates the need to go through the long process of buying the medicine available to everyone regardless of patient’s specific need.
Clinical Pharmacy practice is considered a sub specialty of Pharmacy Practice that utilizes a wide range of professional programs to work with other pharmacists as physicians, practitioners, and nurses.
Clinical Pharmacy is where the medicine is prescribed, dispensed, and tracked by pharmacists. Clinical Pharmacy practice is considered a sub specialty of Pharmacy Practice that utilizes a wide range of professional programs to work with other pharmacists as physicians, practitioners, and nurses. Therefore, medicine, pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and the biochemistry of pharmacy can all be covered within one career path. Most pharmacists work in a clinical environment as a team with medical experts. Clinical pharmacists collaborate with specialists (physicians, surgeons, and nurses) on treatment plans that are tailored to the patient.
Clinical Pharmacy work spans a wide scope of fields including pharmaceutical and biotechnology research. Pharmaceutical work can lead to a clinical/pharmacy or medical degree and allow individuals to practice in the fields of pharmacotherapy, pharmacology, clinical pharmacy, and pharmacy practice. Clinical pharmacists, when employed by pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, may develop a deep knowledge of drug development and manufacturing processes. They may interact directly with the pharmaceutical/biotechnology company’s clinical trials, hospital clinical meetings, and medical meetings.
Clinical pharmacists collaborate with specialists (physicians, surgeons, and nurses) on treatment plans that are tailored to the patient.
Benefits of Clinical Pharmacy
Clinical pharmacists work closely with physicians and other health care providers to treat a wide variety of patients with a diagnosis of drug allergies, intolerances, drug intolerance, drug dependence, drug interactions with other medications, drug addiction (opioids), or withdrawal. As a clinical pharmacist, your job is to be the first point of contact for any patient and to provide education and support; which is different for each patient, and for different diagnosis and different medications.
Pharmacists role in controlling access to medicines, sourcing, inventory management and expiration controls and more…*
Pharmacists have a key role in controlling access to medicines. Access to medicines is the availability of medicines necessary to meet the basic, ongoing healthcare needs of patients. When pharmacists are responsible for access to medicines, they help to prevent the misuse of medicines. This allows health care providers to access reliable, accurate, and effective medicines in a timely manner. By being able to manage access of patients, pharmacists help to avoid the risk of adverse drug reactions which can be life-threatening, and the loss of income due to patients not recovering from adverse drug reactions.
Managing the patient access to medicines is important when patients do not have access to the full spectrum of drugs for their medical condition. World Health Organization has published several reports on access to medicines showing that millions of adults have limited access to medicines, in most cases due to affordability. Moreover, a growing number of countries especially in Africa have limited access to medicines due to high costs of medicines and unavailability.
*Bonus topics are selected based on our readers’ interest. You can read more in the future.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on PharmaRead are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency or organization. PharmaRead articles are provided for information only with focus on global health, pharmacy practice, and healthcare systems in Low- and Middle-income Countries (LMICs). Readers should seek expert opinion for use, implementation or application of this knowledge based on their individual circumstances.