1. Coyne, Patrick J. APRN, BC
  2. Hansen, Lea Ann PharmD, BCOP
  3. Watson, Ashby C. APRN, BC, OCN


Compounded medications offer great opportunities for enabling healthcare professionals to control pain or other symptoms through unique delivery routes and nonstandard formulations or dosages. These formulations can include gels, trouches, suspensions, capsules, and suppositories, as well as many other delivery routes. The use of compounded agents has continued to increase over the last 2 decades. These unique interventions are not without their own set of issues and have not been widely examined within the literature. This article seeks to explore the role of compounding medications while discussing the benefits and potential risks of using the medications.


Compounding allows for the ability to deliver a medication that is not currently commercially manufactured, unavailable, or being used for off-label purposes. Compounded medications can be produced by pharmacists or physicians, but currently, no training in this procedure is required. There is limited federal oversight of compounding medications; most oversight of this procedure is through various state boards of pharmacy.


In evaluating this special intervention, nurses must consider bioavailability, sterility, safety, efficacy, and stability, as well as costs associated with these medications. Recognizing certain changes in the physical formulation may help the nurse assess the formulation to determine whether the medication is stable. This is critical, as the stability of compounded medication is not known as each drug is individually formulated. When compounded medications are considered, many questions must be explored to determine if this avenue serves patients well.