Most prescription medicines taken by patients today are mass produced by large pharmaceutical companies. 

Certain drugs or formulations, however, have to be custom made for select patients, such as those who are allergic to certain dyes or gluten present in off-the-shelf commercial preparations or who cannot take pills but liquid formulations are not available.

This is where compounding pharmacies come in. State boards of pharmacy regulate pharmacies and pharmacists, but the FDA has some authority over some aspects of compounded prescriptions, according to the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, which says 1%-3% of all U.S. prescriptions are compounded.

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