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Ask The Vet by daniel h. grove, dvm W

ith our animals, we usually have to cover the costs of healthcare instead of having insurance or the

government paying for it. This leads us to look for ways to save money anywhere we can often times. One of the ways is by look- ing for less expensive medications for our animals. Often times, compounded medica- tions can be less, but there is a reason for it. Brand name and generic medications

are commercially prepared. These drugs must past FDA approval. This is a long and detailed process with studies done as to the efficacy, consistency, and safety of a drug. The FDA monitors these drugs even aſter they are approved for use. They monitor side effects, and production continuously to ensure the safety of the patients receiving them. With this oversight and regulation, the companies manufacturing these prod- ucts have to maintain their production facil- ities with strict adherence to the regulations. It is not uncommon for production of a med- ication to be stopped for a period of time for updating a manufacturing process or plant to comply with FDA changes that occur. While no one probably lacks appreciation for this safety in the pipeline of medication manufacturing, many of us do not like the idea that it does cost money. Since we are the consumers of the product, we have to pay for this service. Also, if something goes wrong with the use of the medication, most of these companies will stand behind their products and want to make it right with


A monthly column by Daniel H. Grove, DVM

Compounded vs. commercially prepared medications

their customers. They will help with testing and treatment of side effects. Compounded medications follow a dif-

ferent set of rules. When a medication or a delivery form is not available in a commer- cially available form, we oſten times turn to compounded medications. Your veteri- narian calls up a compounding pharmacy (slightly different that your local pharmacy) and the pharmacist will make up the formu- lation according to a recipe they have. For

Compounded medications have their place, but

there are definitely some drawbacks.

oral or topical medications, once made up, they are usually shipped out. For injectable medications, they usually undergo a few weeks of sterility testing and then are ready. Just from this brief description, you can see this is a much less involved process and therefore, your medication is probably going to cost less. Compounded medications have their

place, but there are definitely some draw- backs. First, consistency can be a problem. The process that the medication has been made by is not scrutinized by an indepen-

Got a question for Dr. Grove? Send your inquiries to, and it could be answered by Dr. Grove in a future column. Dr. Grove is based at West Coast Equine Medicine, headquartered in Fallbrook, Calif., where he lives with his wife Kristen.

dent body. Medications have been tested from various pharmacies and some are highly variable as to the content of the actu- al drug that they are meant to be delivering. Other drugs, come out of the compounding pharmacy and work just fine. Think of it like a cooking recipe, one person may use a recipe and their dish comes out a hot mess, the next person follows the same recipe and the dish is a big hit. This can be somewhat risky when it comes to treating your horse. The final and huge drawback is that there is no company to stand behind their product if there is a problem. This means you are on the hook for the

expenses if something goes wrong. This is can be a big risk financially if you have to cover the costs of dealing with a bad reaction. Compounded medications have their

place in medicine. When a drug is on back- order and it is needed for day-to-day treat- ments, they can be great to fill in until you get that commercially made product back. If a commercially made product is discontin- ued, it can be great to get that medication again, if it can be used safely. Before you plead with your veterinarian to get you that medication cheaper, think about the poten- tial consequences of using a medication that might not quite be the same.

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