The role of a pharmacy technician is very rewarding and is also vital to the success of a retail or hospital pharmacy. In addition to answering calls, managing inventory, submitting insurance claims, and filing paperwork, pharmacy technicians work hands-on alongside pharmacists to prepare prescription medication orders and ensure the safe delivery of medications to patients.
Some patients require specialized medications, which are among the most difficult to prepare. Pharmacy technicians have the training to help, even when medications require a special preparation process known as compounding.
If you are curious about the process of creating customized medications for patients and wondering if pharmacy technicians are able to help in this process, read on to learn more about the sterile and non-sterile compounding of medications.
If you're interested in becoming a Pharmacy Technician, consider enrolling in Florida Career College's Pharmacy Technician Program!
Can Pharmacy Technicians Compound Medications?
Yes, pharmacy technicians can perform sterile and non-sterile compounding of medications under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Compounding must be ordered by a physician and carried out with extra caution.
Compound medications are customized to the needs of a specific patient, but they have not been approved by the FDA. To carefully regulate these medications, they must be prepared under the supervision of a pharmacist or physician.
What is Pharmaceutical Compounding?
Pharmaceutical compounding is the process of mixing or altering ingredients in a medication to create a drug that is custom-made for a patient’s needs. These drugs are not approved by the FDA but may be prescribed by a doctor to address the unique needs of a patient and remove ingredients that the patient cannot tolerate. Compounding must be done by a physician or pharmacist or under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist.
A doctor may order a compounded medication to offer a solution to a patient with an allergy, a patient who wants to add a specific flavor to a medication, or who has problems swallowing pills and needs medication to be made in a liquid rather than a pill. Some doctors use compounded medications to offer a very specific dose of a medication to a patient when it is not commercially produced. Compounded medications are also often used in dermatology or hormone replacement to offer a very customized medication. Compounded medications are not available without a prescription from a healthcare provider and are not produced for mass distribution.
Naturally, taking compounded medications may carry some risks because the drugs have not gone through the FDA approval process. Compounding is not done in every pharmacy, but most pharmacies offer compounding in some form. Some pharmacies, called compounding pharmacies, specialize in this service and have made a significant investment in technology to make the process exact.
Let's Explore Sterile and Non-sterile Compounding
Sterile compounding is the process used for medications that are given through an IV, injections, or directly into the eye. These medications go directly into the bloodstream and therefore hold a higher chance of causing an infection. A sterile environment is necessary to prevent this. Pharmacists preparing sterile compounding need to wear extra protective equipment like gloves, masks, goggles, and even robes.
Non-Sterile compounding is for products like pills, liquids, creams, or ointments, or products that have a slower release of the medication. These products are not prepared in a completely sterile environment, but they are still prepared under strict guidelines to ensure accurate measurements, mixing, and labeling. Pharmacy technicians who do non-sterile compounding will still learn to disinfect, sanitize and organize the equipment that is used to ensure no contamination.
Tools like a mortar and pestle, scale, spatula, and graduated cylinder may all be used for compounding medications. All of these tools need to be carefully cleaned between every use.
Who can compound medications?
Medications can be compounded by a doctor, pharmacist, or pharmacy technician under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. Most compounding is done in a pharmacy, but some doctors may compound medications in their offices. The practice of compounding medications is regulated by each state’s board of pharmacy.
What can Pharmacy Technicians Do?
Pharmacy technicians have a wide variety of tasks they are responsible for within a pharmacy. They work side by side with pharmacists and help to receive and confirm prescription orders and fill those orders. They perform pharmaceutical calculations, compound medications with the use of pharmacy equipment and technology, and complete orders or double-check orders for accuracy under the direct supervision of a pharmacist.
Pharmacy technicians also help with administrative tasks like ordering products, contacting insurance companies to confirm coverage, answering telephone calls, accepting payment, and helping with organizing and cleaning.
Pharmacy technicians require excellent customer service skills, attention to detail, and strong professional ethics. Pharmacy technicians just starting out may work in a retail or hospital pharmacy but, with additional training and experience, may have opportunities to work in a variety of pharmaceutical environments.
How to Become a Pharmacy Technician?
There is a great need for pharmacy technicians. If this is a career path that interests you, you should consider enrolling in a training program. A pharmacy technician training program will cover the basics of compounding medications and introduce you to all the duties and tasks a pharmacy technician completes on a daily basis.
Pharmacy technicians are not required to hold a college degree. With proper training, you can be prepared for an entry-level position in this field in as few as ten months.
Become a Pharmacy Technician With Florida Career College
Florida Career College’s Pharmacy Technician program can be completed in as few as ten months, putting you on a path to a rewarding career as a pharmacy technician.
If you enjoy helping people and have an interest in biology, chemistry, and pharmaceuticals, this career would be an excellent fit. You can tour our classrooms today and see how our hands-on programming sets students up for success in an entry-level position.
If you are ready to jumpstart your career, give us a call today or fill out a form to enroll in the Pharmacy Tech Program.