history and evolution of pharmacy

Last Updated on July 29, 2023

Pharmacy education has a long and distinguished history . It has evolved and changed over the years and has been influenced by different aspects; technology, legislation, people, legislation and change. Today we will look at how pharmacy education started and where it is headed in the future.

Are you considering choosing to pursue a career in pharmacy to fulfill your long-time dream of becoming a pharmacist? Are you worried that you might not be getting the right information about that profession? This article below provides reliable and trusted information on history and evolution of pharmacy.

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pharmacy | Britannica

History And Evolution Of Pharmacy

In an era of rapid change in health care delivery, the pharmacy profession is experiencing significant growth and development. Although pharmacists represent a traditional health profession with ancient roots, they are often viewed with considerable ambiguity and uncertainty by those outside of the profession.

Traditionally, pharmacy was regarded as a transitional discipline between the health and chemical sciences and as a profession charged with ensuring the safe use of medication. In the early 1900s, pharmacists fulfilled the role of apothecary —preparing drug products secundum artem (according to the art) for medicinal use. By the 1950s, large-scale manufacturing of medicinal products by the pharmaceutical industry, and the introduction of prescription-only legal status for most therapeutic agents, limited the role of pharmacists to compounding, dispensing and labelling prefabricated products. In response, by the mid-1960s pharmacists had evolved toward a more patient-oriented practice and developed the concept of clinical pharmacy. This marked the beginning of a period of rapid transition that was characterized by an expansion and integration of professional functions, as well as increased professional diversity and closer interaction with physicians and other health care professionals. By the early 1990s the pharmaceutical care model was adopted to emphasize that the role of the pharmacist involves “the responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient’s quality of life.” To varying degrees across the spectrum of practice environments and specialization in pharmacy, pharmacists are currently recognized as drug experts whose role is to work in collaboration with patients, physicians and other health care professionals to optimize medication management to produce positive health outcomes.

1. Empirical medical knowledge

This knowledge of medicine was based on observations and experience and not on scientific knowledge. This led to the discoveries of liquorice for cough in Babylonia, rhubarb roots as purgative in China and dried blueberries as anti-diarrhoea in Syria.

2. Roles of demons and spirits in disease

The use of incantations, charms, and herbs in “curing” diseases perceived to be spiritual was common in ancient practice of medicine. Also, use of foul smelling urine and dungs were believed to drive away evil spirits.

3. Resemblance (Signature) theory

As man’s curiosity grew, he began to link causative and curative agents and came up with the idea that a symptom of a disease is an indication that a plant or plant part will be effective for its treatment. It was more psychological than scientific. Examples include worm-like roots for treating worm infestation, heart-shaped leaves of Melissa for treating heart diseases, yellow juice of celandine for treating jaundice.

Though the ancient man’s quest for solution to disease was primitive and non-scientific, he had a measure of success motivated by observations, assumptions, and spiritism.

  • Mesopotamia (2600 BC) – These people were credited to be the first to put medical knowledge in writing. Their medical discoveries ranged from oils, spices, plant extract, animal parts and sometimes spiritual incantations.
  • Chinese (2000 BC) – The Chinese believed that diseases resulted from the imbalance in forces acting on humans and animals, thus produced herbal drugs with “spiritual” effects. They were credited to be first users of podophyllum, rhubarb, ginseng, cinnamon etc.
  • Egyptians (2900 BC) – The Egyptians achieved significant progress in medicinal knowledge and were credited with discoveries of various dosage forms namely decoction, enemas, infusions, inhalations, lotions etc. They also had plant drugs such as acacia, onions, aloe, castor oil, opium etc. They prepared drugs with mortar and pestle, hand mills and weighing balances etc.
  • Greeks (1000 B. C.) – At the turn of the millennium, the Greeks had taken over the knowledge, starting with superstition but later turned to intellectual and rational use of drugs. “During the superstition era, Asklepios was believed to impact healing by touching one with his staff or serpent. His daughter, Hygeia, was also believed to have a healing portion and these emanated as the international symbol of the pharmacy profession”. Notable Greek philosophers that contributed to the development of the profession include Hippocrates, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Galenus, and Pythagoras.

history of pharmacy education

The history of pharmacy as an independent science dates back to the first third of the 19th century. Before then, pharmacy evolved from antiquity as part of medicine. The history of pharmacy coincides well with the history of medicine, but it’s important that there is a distinction between the two topics. Pharmaceuticals is one of the most-researched fields in the academic industry, but the history surrounding that particular topic is sparse compared to the impact its made world-wide. Before the advent of pharmacists, there existed apothecaries that worked alongside priests and physicians in regard to patient care.

history of pharmacy in the united states

The history of pharmacy in the United States is the story of a melting pot of new pharmaceutical ideas and innovations drawn from advancements that Europeans shared, Native American medicine and newly discovered medicinal plants in the New World. American pharmacy grew from this fertile mixture, and has impacted U.S. history, and the global course of pharmacy.living historian interprets a 19th-century apothecary shop for visitors, Old Salem, North Carolina.

Apothecary—an ancient title that, especially in pre-modern or early modern contexts, indicates a broader set of skills and duties than the core role of dispensing medications, like prescribing remedies and even giving some treatments difficult to self-administer, e.g. enemas—have largely been within the “pharmacist” umbrella in the U.S. since the mid-19th century, when Edward Parrish of the American Pharmaceutical Association successfully proposed that the APhA “consider all the varied pharmaceutical practitioners ‘pharmacists’” to better “standardize the field.” Unlike in the UK, where pharmacists were separated from apothecaries by Parliament and the pharmacist had effectively eclipsed the ancient apothecary, appellations and professions have been far more fluid and overlapping in the U.S., especially prior to the regulatory schemes widely adopted in the late 19th century. “Apothecary” still crops up as synonym for pharmacist, along with “druggist,” and has yet to fall entirely out of use, with some in the U.S. still calling themselves apothecaries. As the pharmacist increasingly became the distinct discipline and tightly defined profession it is today, American pharmacists added their own discoveries and innovations, and played a prominent role in the revolution in medical knowledge in the 19th and 20th centuries and the subsequent development of modern medicine.

The history of pharmacy has lagged behind other fields in the history of science and medicine, perhaps because primary sources in the field are sparse. Historical inquiries in this area have been few, and unlike the growing number of programs in the history of medicine, history of pharmacy programs remain few in number in the United States.

types of pharmacy

There are many different types of pharmacy, and other places where a trained pharmacist may work. This includes:

  • community pharmacy
  • hospital pharmacy
  • clinical pharmacy
  • industrial pharmacy
  • compounding pharmacy
  • consulting pharmacy
  • ambulatory care pharmacy
  • regulatory pharmacy
  • home care pharmacy

There are various other specializations in the field of pharmacy. Each of these is covered in more detail below.

Community Pharmacy

Also known as a retail pharmacy, the community pharmacy is the most well known type of pharmacy. It is this type that is most traditionally known as the pharmacist or chemist shop. A community pharmacist usually works in a store that provides the community with access to the medications they need, as well as advice to promote the safe and effective use of the medicines they provide. They can tell their customers what drugs may interact with each other or with alcohol, and help prevent dangerous or troublesome combinations or side-effects of medication. Helping patients with the reimbursement of drug expenses, supervising pharmacy technicians and keeping inventory of the drugs stocked also make up part of their duties.

Hospital Pharmacy

A hospital pharmacy is the place where the management of medications occurs in a hospital, medical clinic or nursing home. A hospital pharmacist often works in close collaboration with other health professionals to ensure that the medication regimen for each patient is optimized to achieve the best outcomes. They may also be involved with clinical trials, as well as compounding medications for individualized dosing or sterile medications. Teaching, administrative functions in the selection, proper storage, distribution and prescription protocols of drugs, education of medical staff in the aspects of selection, administration and monitoring of drug safety, as well as assessing drug levels and drug safety may all be part of their work. Hospital pharmacists may be inpatient or outpatient pharmacists, and may also specialize in one or other area of pharmacotherapy.

Clinical Pharmacy

The clinical pharmacy exists in a number of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and other medical centers. The aim of clinical pharmacy is to ensure the optimal use of medications for the best outcomes through the provision of drug information and monitoring for drug safety and efficacy. They can predict drug interactions and so prevent many adverse reactions to medication.

A Historical Overview of Pharmacology | Carrington College

Industrial Pharmacy

The industrial pharmacy involves the pharmaceutical industry and includes the research, production, packaging, quality control, marketing and sales of pharmaceutical goods. An industrial pharmacist may work as a representative for a particular pharmaceutical company to advocate for the use of its products, as well as to inform practitioners about their actions and benefits.

Compounding Pharmacy

A compounding pharmacy involves the production and preparation of medicines in new forms. This may include reformulating a powder tablet to a solution, which can assist in the administration of the drug for certain patients.

A compounding pharmacist may work in a community, clinical or residential-based setting, depending on the purpose of their formulation. They may also dispense ready-made medications in some circumstances.

Consulting Pharmacy

The consulting pharmacy is a relatively new branch of pharmacy, born in 1990. It focuses on the theoretical review of medications rather than dispensing medicines. Consultant pharmacists often work in nursing homes or visit patients in-home to provide their services, in order to enable them to use medications most effectively.

Ambulatory Care Pharmacy

The ambulatory pharmacy provides healthcare services to many patients in rural areas, particularly to geriatric populations. These pharmacists help in the management of patients who are at higher risk of drug-related problems or disease complications due to lack of control over the condition. As ambulatory pharmacy is a mobile service that can meet patients where they are, and therefore help to reduce the number of hospital visits that their patients require. They are often directly or indirectly employees of a managed healthcare organization.

Regulatory Pharmacy

Also known as government pharmacy, regulatory pharmacy is responsible for creating rules and regulations for the safe use of medicine to promote positive health outcomes. This includes pharmacists working in public health and regulatory health boards, such as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Home Care Pharmacy

Home care pharmacy primarily involves the preparation and delivery of injectables to critically ill patients in the home environment. This is also sometimes referred to as infusion pharmacy, as only injectable medications are dispensed, and not medication administered in other forms, such as oral or topical. They may major in one or the other area of illness, such as infusions for nutritional support, chemotherapy, mental illness or oncology.

Managed care pharmacy

Managed care pharmacy involves the planning and management of medication in health maintenance organizations, such as hospitals, nursing homes and extended healthcare centers.

Research pharmacy

Research pharmacists work on developing new drugs and profiling their actions, effectiveness, side-effects and interactions.

Specializations in Pharmacy

Some pharmacists may specialize in a certain area of drug therapy with a master’s degree or other continued learning. This helps them to gain proficiency and recognition to practice in specialized fields. This may include areas such as:

  • Oncology pharmacy
  • Nuclear pharmacy
  • Geriatric pharmacy
  • Psychopharmacotherapy
  • Personal pharmacy
  • Nutritional support pharmacy
  • Hospice pharmacy
  • Pediatric pharmacy
  • Pharmacy benefit manager
  • Poison control pharmacy

Each of these specializations is a type of pharmacy in its own right, although such pharmacists usually practice in a hospital pharmacy. Their unique knowledge base makes it possible for them to provide medical information in particular relevant situations.

pharmacy | Britannica

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