What are compounding pharmacies?

Compounding pharmacies mix and alter drug ingredients to create medications tailored to specific patient needs, according to the Food and Drug Administration

Compounded medications are usually created using the active ingredients in drugs. In Ozempic’s and Wegovy’s case, that's semaglutide. 

But compounded drugs — while they contain FDA-approved ingredients — are not themselves approved by the FDA, meaning they are not regulated, monitored or tested by the agency, said Benjamin Jolley, a pharmacist and owner of Jolley’s Compounding Pharmacy in Salt Lake City. 

Hospitals will sometimes use a compounded medication when a commercially available option is not ideal, according to the FDA. They may lower the dosage of pain medication to prevent some side effects, for example, or remove preservatives or dyes that may cause an allergic reaction. 

The FDA will also grant exemptions that allow compounding pharmacists to make certain medications if there is a shortage, said Jeremy Kahn, a spokesperson for the agency.