Using A Compounding Pharmacy To Improve Medication Compliance In Children With IBD

4 November 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that is increasingly being diagnosed in children. There are a number of drugs that are approved for treating paediatric IBD, but children don't always understand the importance of taking their medication every day, especially when they find it difficult to swallow pills or don't like the taste of their medicine.

Additionally, as your child grows, the therapeutic dose of most drugs change, but drugs used to treat IBD tend to be formulated for adult usage. This means they are only available in a few strengths, and a growing child may have periods where their dosage is not as accurate as it could be if the strength of their prescription could be easily altered.

A compounding pharmacy can make changes to your child's prescription and create a medicine they are happier to take every day without compromising the active ingredient. Here's an overview of two ways a compounding pharmacy can alter common medications used to treat IBD, such as azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine:

Change The Form

If your child struggles to swallow pills, a compounding pharmacist can use a pharmaceutical mortar to grind the pills into a fine powder. The powder can then be incorporated into lollipops or gummy bears, which most kids are happy to eat. Alternatively, it can be suspended in an oral solution, which allows the dosage to be changed easily as your child grows. As some pills, such as azathioprine, are cytotoxic and can't be safely broken in half, the dosing flexibility offered by altering the form of your child's medication can help with symptom control.    

Change The Taste

Some medications used to treat IBD, such as 6-mercaptopurine, are prescribed as an oral solution, but the taste is not well tolerated.  A compounding pharmacist can change the taste by adding a fruit flavouring. There are a range of fruit flavours available, including banana, cherry and strawberry, and your child can pick a different flavour each time they have their prescription refilled. You should never add flavouring yourself, as this dilutes the medication and can lead to your child not receiving enough of the active ingredient in their prescribed dose.

Your child's gastroenterologist or GP can provide details of compounding pharmacies in your area. As they offer a specialised service, these pharmacies can be busy, so order your child's prescription in plenty of time to prevent them running out of their current supply.