People with chronic diseases can benefit from seeking treatment at specialized medical clinics. These outpatient clinics are designed to care for patients with complex issues caused by a particular disease or set of medical conditions. The clinics often operate as part of a larger health system that offers patients specialized services to better meet patients' needs.

Some larger clinics and medical centers may have a specialized pharmacy department in facilities that focus on treating specific conditions. In recent years, the number of hospitals with specialty pharmacies has grown significantly. In 2018, three-fourths of medical centers with more than 600 beds had a specialized pharmacy. There has also been an increase in specialized pharmacies in small facilities: 13 percent of facilities with fewer than 200 beds offer specialty pharmacy services.

Specialized Pharmacies

A specialty pharmacy in a medical center or clinic is better equipped to provide care for patients with chronic diseases or complex conditions and patients with multiple conditions that require more attention and oversight of their medication regimen. Pharmacists work closely with clinicians to assist patients with challenging conditions such as cancers, liver diseases, kidney diseases, pulmonary diseases, organ transplants, HIV/AIDS and other autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Pharmacy staff consult with patients about their treatment plans and follow up with them about taking their medications correctly as well as managing side effects. Many specialty pharmacies provide care on an outpatient basis as well as managing in-patient pharmaceutical needs.

What is Compounding?

Specialized pharmacies may also provide compounding services to patients. Compounding is the creation of a customized drug formulation that is better tolerated or more effective for a patient than the standard, manufactured formulation of a drug. Compounding can alter the way a drug is delivered, such as mixing a liquid suspension for a drug that is normally available in pill form. Sometimes a physician may prescribe a medication to be injected instead of taken orally, so the pharmacist will make an injectable formulation. Pharmacists can also create a topical formulation for a drug that is normally taken orally.

Meeting Patients' Needs

Patients may need a customized formulation if they are allergic to an ingredient in the manufacturer's formulation. In some cases, the inactive ingredients of a drug may contain an allergenic substance such as gluten, soy, or lactose or a dye that the patient is sensitive to. The pharmacist can mix a new formulation using an alternate vehicle for the drug that the patient can better tolerate. Sometimes the standard dosage levels manufactured by the pharmaceutical company are too strong or too weak for an individual patient's condition, so the doctor will prescribe a custom dosage that the pharmacist will prepare. To make a bad-tasting medication more tolerable for children, a pharmacist can add a flavoring agent to liquid formulations.

For mroe information, contact a medical clinic in your area.