Dr. Oz and Sharon Steen

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Still confused about compounding pharmacies? Dr. Oz travels to Central Pharmacy in Santa Monica, California, to see how they differ from traditional pharmacies. For the past 15 years, Sharon Steen, the owner, has been in the business of bioidenticals, her pharmacy's specialty.

"We do regular, prescription-type medicine, but what we do mostly now is prescription compounding, which is making our own prescription into different forms such as creams, capsules, suppositories and the like," Sharon says. "We do that here in our compounding lab."

Since compounding pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA, Sharon says some of the controversy may stem from concerns about quality-control. "Some people that question compounding pharmacies may not be really confident that the product that they're getting is what the doctor [has] written," she says.

Doctors do turn to places like Central Pharmacy when they need a medication or a dosage that's not commercially available, Sharon says. To complete these individualized prescriptions, Sharon and her team mix hormones—shipped to them in powder form—with basic moisturizing cream. Then, the mixture is put through an "ointment mill," which crushes the hormone particles so they blend smoothly with the cream.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.