Access To Compounding Pharmacy Is 'Extremely Important'

Armen Hareyan's picture

A Wedgewood Pharmacy survey of 295 veterinary-practices examined challenges they face, how they use compounding pharmacies like Wedgewood and the factors they consider when choosing a compounding pharmacy. The results reaffirmed the critical role that high-quality compounding pharmacies play in modern veterinary practice:

* Having access to compounded medications is "extremely important" to 80% of those surveyed; the rest said it's "important."

* 40% prescribe compounded medications every week; 31% do so every day. All of the practices surveyed prescribe custom-made medications at least several times each year.

The survey showed that profit and loss issues are the most frequently mentioned challenges to the practices surveyed:

* 77% say that containing costs is a "very important" challenge to their practices; 61% cite escalating pharmaceutical costs, 58% cite clients who don't pay their bills, 58% cite managing growth and 49% say that having enough clients are "very important" challenges facing them.

* Staffing and management issues, too, are very important challenges for most of the practices surveyed: 66% cite finding qualified veterinary technicians, 65% cite retaining staff and 59% cite finding qualified veterinaries as very important challenges to their practices.

Respondents to the survey also were asked to rate two dozen factors they consider when making a decision to do business with one compounding pharmacy over another. President and CEO, George Malmberg says he's not surprised that 19 factors were considered to be "very important" more frequently than "the lowest price," which only 34% cited. Malmberg notes: "Prescribers turn to compounding for their patients with special needs that can't be served by mass-manufactured medications. Quality and service factors are far more important to them when selecting a compounding pharmacy partner. We were encouraged, nonetheless, to see that 91% of the respondents said they are satisfied with our prices."

Only 7% said that "the pharmacy is local" is a very important factor to them when choosing a compounding pharmacy. Malmberg notes: "Quality is critical to our customers and their patients. Prescribers understand that a pharmacy like ours, which does nothing but compounding in a strictly controlled clinical environment, can meet their most important requirement: consistency of the product."

About the Study

Questions asked in the Wedgewood survey were developed based on in-depth, open-ended personal interviews with a dozen of the company's current customers. More than 3,000 customers then were invited by E-mail to participate and other customers were invited through other customer- communication channels to complete an online survey. The results are based on the responses of 295 responses during June and July 2007. 69% of the respondents were veterinarians and the balance were other professionals who facilitate veterinarians' prescribing through compounded pharmacies. 62% represented small- and companion-animal practices; 21% represented specialized equine practices, while the rest represented other types of practices including feline-only, zoos, rescue organizations and universities.


Because only its customers were invited to participate, the sample responding is not representative of all veterinary practices in the United States. However, tests of the data give the company confidence that the sampling error is about 5.5% and fairly represents the viewpoints of veterinary practice representatives who are involved with making decisions about compounding pharmacies.

This Customer-Relationship Check-Up(C) study for Wedgewood Pharmacy was designed, conducted and reported by David Kirk, APR, Fellow PRSA, president of thePRguy incorporated.

Background: About custom-made compounded medications

Because every patient is different and has different needs, customized, compounded medications are a vital part of quality medical care.

The basis of the profession of pharmacy has always been the "triad," the patient-physician-pharmacist relationship. Compounding is extremely important to the veterinary community, which often requires more flavors, dosages and potency levels than commercially available medications supply. Through this relationship, patient needs are determined by a doctor, who chooses a treatment regimen that may include a compounded medication. Physicians and veterinarians often prescribe compounded medications for reasons that include (but are not limited to) the following situations:

* When needed medications are discontinued by or generally unavailable from pharmaceutical companies, often because the medications are no longer profitable to manufacture;

* When the patient is allergic to certain preservatives, dyes or binders in available off-the shelf medications;

* When treatment requires tailored dosage strengths for patients with unique needs (for example, an infant);

* When a pharmacist can combine several medications the patient is taking to increase compliance;

* When the patient cannot ingest the medication in its commercially available form and a pharmacist can prepare the medication in cream, liquid or other form that the patient can easily take; and

* When medications require flavor additives to make them more palatable for some patients, most often children and pets.