Some pharmacies, known as compounding pharmacies, can mix different ingredients to gather to make a patient-specific product. They can prepare a special formulation of a needed medication that replaces an ingredient in a commercially available product to which the patient is allergic.

Some pharmacies have concentrated on making a business out of marketing and selling compounded pain creams and ointments that contain a combination of multiple potent medications. Many include drugs that can cause central nervous system depression, which may result in slower breathing, cardiac effects such as a low heart rate or irregular heartbeat, and drowsiness or a loss of consciousness, as well as having some effect on pain.

These drugs may include ketamine, baclofen, lidocaine, tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentin, clonidine, ad nifedipine.

While each individual drug is approved by the FDA to treat specific conditions, they are not approved when combined to make pain creams or ointments by compounding pharmacies. Consumers are charged per ingredient even though there is no proof that mixing more drugs together make the product better. Some compounding pharmacies have enticed doctors with financial incentives to prescribe these creams, despite an Anti-Kickback Statue.

Pain creams can present safety issues for adults and children. Patients may not be aware of potential dangers with these creams, especially side effects related to central nervous system depression and cardiac effects. If you are prescribed a pain cream or ointment, ask about possible adverse effects and proper use. Keep the creams or ointments up and away and out of sight of children. The creams may not have a safety closure to prevent access by a child. Don’t allow others to use the cream that was specifically prescribed for you.

March 18, 2015

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