SPOKANE, Wash.—Student pharmacists at Washington State University got a deep-dive into the art of medication customization in a weekend-long compounding “boot camp” hosted at WSU Health Sciences Spokane.

Drug companies produce medicine in standard doses. Compounding is the term used to describe when pharmacists customize prescriptions to better fit the individual. This can involve converting a medicine from a tablet to a liquid form, or adjusting the dosage or dosage form. For example, many drugs are not produced in dosages appropriate for children. Pediatric medicine is something that is often compounded by a pharmacist.

scientists in the lab

The boot camp ran over the first weekend in October. Instruction was provided by the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA), a membership based company committed to help pharmacists and prescribers create personalized medicine through educational programs, professional resources and access to high quality compounding supplies.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students. Participation in the boot camp allows them to learn about compounding in a more in-depth level than we can cover in our curriculum. Ultimately, it is a step in preparing our students for a future career in compounding,” said Dr. Connie Remsberg, who teaches compounding as clinical assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy.

During the two day event, WSU student pharmacists learned about compounding various dosage forms in the classroom then got to apply their skills in the compounding lab. They compounded 11 types of dosage forms including gels, foam cleansers, lip balms, lollipops, suppositories, troches, suspensions, and capsules using a capsule filling machine.

Usually a couple students each year travel to participate in a compounding boot camp hosted by the PCCA, a Houston-based company, but the costs prohibit more students from participating. This year, donations from WSU pharmacy alumni and community brought the PCCA boot camp to the WSU Spokane campus for the first time in six years. Donators included Wayne and Pamela Clemens, Grant Kinn and RxPlus Pharmacy Scholarship Foundation, and R. Keith Campbell. Additional funds came directly from the College of Pharmacy and from the sale of baskets at silent auctions.

A total of 28 WSU Doctor of Pharmacy students from Yakima and Spokane were able to participate this year.

Not all pharmacies provide compounding services, which makes it an ideal niche for pharmacy entrepreneurs interested in owning their own stores.

“Compounding is about problem solving,” said WSU alumnus Wayne Clemens. “It allows a pharmacist to provide a correct dosage to a patient when they don’t fit the ‘one size fits all’ standard.”

photo of new wsu pharmacists

WSU student pharmacists: Emily Wentzke, Alec Sisneros, Meredith Matsen, Ani Orujyan, Hanh To, Shauna Maple, Sydney Bouchey, Victoria Chong, Simone Widhalm, Alina Yanovich, Josephine Rupp, Loan Lam, Peter Martsin, Diana Forrest, Chaysen Chong, Torrie Wolery, Brian Rupp, Brittany Mellegard, Audrey Nordness, Eric Kim, Duy Ho, Mitchell Flowers, Boris Zhang, Tyler Sanders, Sunao Tamukai, Zohal Sarway, Heather Craig, Alicia James

[Lori J. Maricle] 10/28/2016