Compounding Techniques for the Simulation Lab

compounding technique mortar and pestle

Up until about the 1950s, compounding pharmacies were typical in communities across America. Medications were made locally by compounding techniques – most of which still exist. Today, most medications are mass produced by major pharmaceutical companies, which is quicker, less expensive, and gets medication to more people.

However, occasionally a patient has a unique situation that cannot be addressed by a factory-produced medication. In this case, a doctor will create a specific formulation of that medication, and make sure a pharmacist familiar with the techniques of compounding will be able to fill it.

Compounded medications are still used today for small children who need a medicine strength not regularly available; people who are allergic to a component of a drug they need to take; or people who need a custom-tailored hormone therapy. Some of the common conditions that can be treated via a compounded medication include hormonal imbalance, infertility, weight gain, and thyroid disease.

Since many boards of pharmacy have decided to strengthen compounding regulations, the Joint Commission developed a Medication Compounding Certification program. See this blog post for more information.

Common Compounding Techniques

    1. Trituration: This technique is used to reduce the particle size of powders. Grinding them into a fine powder makes them easier to mix into creams or put into capsules. The key to doing this correctly is to use a mortar and pestle and grasp the pestle firmly with your whole hand, not just hold the end with your fingertips.

    2. Levigation: Levigation is the act of decreasing particle size of a powder by using a non-soluble liquid. In this technique, you need a flat compounding surface, such a glass tray, a metal spatula, and your powder, mineral oil, lanolin, and/or petroleum jelly. The key to levigation is to reduce the powder by spreading it on the surface of the tray mixed with the mineral oil until it’s not gritty. Use a spreading technique just like spreading butter on a hard piece of toast.

    3. Geometric Dilution: This mixing process is used when combining two or more ingredients of varying quantities together to achieve a homogeneous mixture. This can be used to mix powders, creams, or ointments.

Other things you will learn in pharm tech programs that include compounding techniques are: the proper way to weigh ingredients, filling capsules, the differences between creams and ointments, and sterile and non-sterile technique.

Pocket Nurse provides a full line of pharmacy teaching solutions for your pharm tech programs and simulation laboratories, including many simulated ingredients for compounding techniques.

Compounding pharmacy (video)
LP3 Network: Pharmacy Courses and Healthcare Training
Levigation (video)

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