For other uses see Pharmacy (disambiguation).
Pharmacy (from the Greek φάρμακον 'pharmakon' = drug) is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences, and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of medication. The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing medications, and it also includes more modern services related to patient care, including clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy, and providing drug information. Pharmacists, therefore, are the experts on drug therapy and are the primary health professionals who optimize medication use to provide patients with positive health outcomes. The term is also applied to an establishment used for such purposes. The first pharmacy in Europe (still working) was opened in 1241 in Trier, Germany.
The word pharmacy is derived from its root word pharma which was a term used since the 1400–1600's. In addition to pharma responsibilities, the pharma offered general medical advice and a range of services that are now performed solely by other specialist practitioners, such as surgery and midwifery. The pharma (as it was referred to) often operated through a retail shop which, in addition to ingredients for medicines, sold tobacco and patent medicines. The pharmas also used many other herbs not listed.
In its investigation of herbal and chemical ingredients, the work of the pharma may be regarded as a precursor of the modern sciences of chemistry and pharmacology, prior to the formulation of the scientific method.
The field of Pharmacy can generally be divided into three primary disciplines:
The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are not always clear-cut; and often, collaborative teams from various disciplines research together.
Pharmacology is sometimes considered a fourth discipline of pharmacy. Although pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy, it is not specific to pharmacy. Therefore it is usually considered to be a field of the broader sciences.
Other specializations in pharmacy practice recognized by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties include: cardiovascular, infectious disease, oncology, pharmacotherapy, nuclear, nutrition, and psychiatry. The Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy certifies pharmacists in geriatric pharmacy practice. The American Board of Applied Toxicology certifies pharmacists and other medical professionals in applied toxicology.
See main article: Pharmacist. Pharmacists are highly-trained and skilled healthcare professionals who perform various roles to ensure optimal health outcomes for their patients. Many pharmacists are also small-business owners, owning the pharmacy in which they practice.
Pharmacists are represented internationally by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). They are represented at the national level by professional organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA), the Pakistan Pharmacists Society(PPS) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). See also: List of pharmacy associations.
In some cases, the representative body is also the registering body, which is responsible for the ethics of the profession. Since the Shipman Inquiry, there has been a move in the UK to separate the two roles.
Paleopharmacological studies attest to the use of medicinal plants in pre-history.
The earliest known compilation of medicinal substances was the Sushruta Samhita, an Indian Ayurvedic treatise attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC. However, the earliest text as preserved dates to the 3rd or 4th century AD.
The earliest known Chinese manual on materia medica is the Shennong Bencao Jing (The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic), dating back to the 1st century AD. It was compiled during the Han dynasty and was attributed to the mythical Shennong. Earlier literature included lists of prescriptions for specific ailments, exemplified by a manuscript "Recipes for 52 Ailments", found in the Mawangdui tomb, sealed in 168 BC. Further details on Chinese pharmacy can be found in the Pharmacy in China article.
The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides is famous for writing a five volume book in his native Greek Περί ύλης ιατρικής in the 1st century AD. The Latin translation De Materia Medica (Concerning medical substances) was used a basis for many medieval texts, and was built upon by many middle eastern scientists during the Islamic Golden Age. The title coined the term materia medica.
In Japan, at the end of the Asuka period (538-710) and the early Nara period (710-794), the men who fulfilled roles similar to those of modern pharamacists were highly respected. The place of pharmacists in society was expressly defined in the Taihō Code (701) and re-stated in the Yōrō Code (718). Ranked positions in the pre-Heian Imperial court were established; and this organizational structure remained largely intact until the Meiji Restoration (1868). In this highly stable hierarchy, the pharmacists -- and even pharmacist assistants -- were assigned status superior to all others in health-related fields such as physicians and acupuncturists. In the Imperial household, the pharmacist was even ranked above the two personal physicians of the Emperor.
The advances in made in the Middle East in botany and chemistry led medicine in medieval Islam substantially to develop pharmacology. Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) (865-915), for instance, acted to promote the medical uses of chemical compounds. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) (936-1013) pioneered the preparation of medicines by sublimation and distillation. His Liber servitoris is of particular interest, as it provides the reader with recipes and explains how to prepare the `simples’ from which were compounded the complex drugs then generally used. Sabur Ibn Sahl (d 869), was, however, the first physician to initiate pharmacopoedia, describing a large variety of drugs and remedies for ailments. Al-Biruni (973-1050) wrote one of the most valuable Islamic works on pharmacology entitled Kitab al-Saydalah (The Book of Drugs), where he gave detailed knowledge of the properties of drugs and outlined the role of pharmacy and the functions and duties of the pharmacist. Ibn Sina (Avicenna), too, described no less than 700 preparations, their properties, mode of action and their indications. He devoted in fact a whole volume to simple drugs in The Canon of Medicine. Of great impact were also the works by al-Maridini of Baghdad and Cairo, and Ibn al-Wafid (1008-1074), both of which were printed in Latin more than fifty times, appearing as De Medicinis universalibus et particularibus by `Mesue' the younger, and the Medicamentis simplicibus by `Abenguefit'. Peter of Abano (1250-1316) translated and added a supplement to the work of al-Maridini under the title De Veneris. Al-Muwaffaq’s contributions in the field are also pioneering. Living in the 10th century, he wrote The foundations of the true properties of Remedies, amongst others describing arsenious oxide, and being acquainted with silicic acid. He made clear distinction between sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate, and drew attention to the poisonous nature of copper compounds, especially copper vitriol, and also lead compounds. He also describes the distillation of sea-water for drinking.
Pharmacists practice in a variety of areas including retail, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, drug industry, and regulatory agencies. Pharmacists can specialize in various areas of practice including but not limited to: hematology/oncology, infectious diseases, ambulatory care, nutrition support, drug information, critical care, pediatrics, etc.
A pharmacy (commonly the chemist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK; or drugstore in North America; retail pharmacy in industry terminology; or Apothecary, historically) is the place where most pharmacists practice the profession of pharmacy. It is the community pharmacy where the dichotomy of the profession exists - health professionals who are also retailers.
Community pharmacies usually consist of a retail storefront with a dispensary where medications are stored and dispensed. The dispensary is subject to pharmacy legislation; with requirements for storage conditions, compulsory texts, equipment, etc., specified in legislation. Where it was once the case that pharmacists stayed within the dispensary compounding/dispensing medications; there has been an increasing trend towards the use of trained pharmacy technicians while the pharmacist spends more time communicating with patients.
All pharmacies are required to have a pharmacist on-duty at all times when open. In many jurisdictions, it is also a requirement that the owner of a pharmacy must be a registered pharmacist (R.Ph.). This latter requirement has been revoked in many jurisdictions, such that many retailers (including supermarkets and mass merchandisers) now include a pharmacy as a department of their store.
Likewise, many pharmacies are now rather grocery store-like in their design. In addition to medicines and prescriptions, many now sell a diverse arrangement of additional household items such as cosmetics, shampoo, office supplies, confectionary, and snack foods.
Also, retail pharmacists usually make more money than their clinical counterparts.
See main article: Hospital pharmacy. Pharmacies within hospitals differ considerably from community pharmacies. Some pharmacists in hospital pharmacies may have more complex clinical medication management issues whereas pharmacists in community pharmacies often have more complex business and customer relations issues.
Because of the complexity of medications including specific indications, effectiveness of treatment regimens, safety of medications (i.e., drug interactions) and patient compliance issues ( in the hospital and at home) many pharmacists practicing in hospitals gain more education and training after pharmacy school through a pharmacy practice residency and sometimes followed by another residency in a specific area. Those pharmacists are often referred to as clinical pharmacists and they often specialize in various disciplines of pharmacy. For example, there are pharmacists who specialize in haematology/oncology, HIV/AIDS, infectious disease, critical care, emergency medicine, toxicology, nuclear pharmacy, pain management, psychiatry, anticoagulation clinics, herbal medicine, neurology/epilepsy management, paediatrics, neonatal pharmacists and more.
Hospital pharmacies can usually be found within the premises of the hospital. Hospital pharmacies usually stock a larger range of medications, including more specialized medications, than would be feasible in the community setting. Most hospital medications are unit-dose, or a single dose of medicine. Hospital pharmacists and trained pharmacy technicians compound sterile products for patients including total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and other medications given intravenously. This is a complex process that requires adequate training of personnel, quality assurance of products, and adequate facilities. Several hospital pharmacies have decided to outsource high risk preparations and some other compounding functions to companies who specialize in compounding.
See main article: Clinical pharmacy. Clinical pharmacists provide direct patient care services that optimizes the use of medication and promotes health, wellness, and disease prevention. Clinical pharmacists care for patients in all health care settings but the clinical pharmacy movement initially began inside Hospitals and clinics. Clinical pharmacists often collaborate with Physicians and other healthcare professionals to improve pharmaceutical care. Clinical pharmacists are now an integral part of the interdisciplinary approach to patient care. They work collaboratively with physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel in various medical and surgical areas. They often participate in patient care rounds and drug product selection. In most hospitals in the United States, potentially dangerous drugs that require close monitoring are dosed and managed by clinical pharmacists.
See main article: Compounding. Compounding is the practice of preparing drugs in new forms. For example, if a drug manufacturer only provides a drug as a tablet, a compounding pharmacist might make a medicated lollipop that contains the drug. Patients who have difficulty swallowing the tablet may prefer to suck the medicated lollipop instead.
Compounding pharmacies specialize in compounding, although many also dispense the same non-compounded drugs that patients can obtain from community pharmacies.
See main article: Consultant pharmacist. Consultant pharmacy practice focuses more on medication regimen review (i.e. "cognitive services") than on actual dispensing of drugs. Consultant pharmacists most typically work in nursing homes, but are increasingly branching into other institutions and non-institutional settings. Traditionally consultant pharmacists were usually independent business owners, though in the United States many now work for several large pharmacy management companies (primarily Omnicare, Kindred Healthcare and PharMerica). This trend may be gradually reversing as consultant pharmacists begin to work directly with patients, primarily because many elderly people are now taking numerous medications but continue to live outside of institutional settings. Some community pharmacies employ consultant pharmacists and/or provide consulting services.
The main principle of consultant pharmacy is Pharmaceutical care developed by Hepler and Strand in 1990.
See main article: Online pharmacy. Since about the year 2000, a growing number of Internet pharmacies have been established worldwide. Many of these pharmacies are similar to community pharmacies, and in fact, many of them are actually operated by brick-and-mortar community pharmacies that serve consumers online and those that walk in their door. The primary difference is the method by which the medications are requested and received. Some customers consider this to be more convenient and private method rather than traveling to a community drugstore where another customer might overhear about the drugs that they take. Internet pharmacies (also known as Online Pharmacies) are also recommended to some patients by their physicians if they are homebound.
While most Internet pharmacies sell prescription drugs and require a valid prescription, some Internet pharmacies sell prescription drugs without requiring a prescription. Many customers order drugs from such pharmacies to avoid the "inconvenience" of visiting a doctor or to obtain medications which their doctors were unwilling to prescribe. However, this practice has been criticized as potentially dangerous, especially by those who feel that only doctors can reliably assess contraindications, risk/benefit ratios, and an individual's overall suitability for use of a medication. There also have been reports of such pharmacies dispensing substandard products.
Of particular concern with internet pharmacies is the ease with which people, youth in particular, can obtain controlled substances (e.g., Vicodin, generically known as hydrocodone) via the internet without a prescription issued by a doctor/practitioner who has an established doctor-patient relationship. There are many instances where a practitioner issues a prescription, brokered by an internet server, for a controlled substance to a "patient" s/he has never met. In the United States, in order for a prescription for a controlled substance to be valid, it must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a licensed practitioner acting in the course of legitimate doctor-patient relationship. The filling pharmacy has a corresponding responsibility to ensure that the prescription is valid. Often, individual state laws outline what defines a valid patient-doctor relationship.
Canada is home to dozens of licensed Internet pharmacies, many of which sell their lower-cost prescription drugs to U.S. consumers, who pay one of the world's highest drug prices. In recent years, many consumers in the US and in other countries with high drug costs, have turned to licensed Internet pharmacies in India, Israel and the UK, which often have even lower prices than in Canada.
In the United States, there has been a push to legalize importation of medications from Canada and other countries, in order to reduce consumer costs. While in most cases importation of prescription medications violates Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and federal laws, enforcement is generally targeted at international drug suppliers, rather than consumers. There is no known case of any U.S. citizens buying Canadian drugs for personal use with a prescription, who has ever been charged by authorities.
Veterinary pharmacies, sometimes called animal pharmacies may fall in the category of hospital pharmacy, retail pharmacy or mail-order pharmacy. Veterinary pharmacies stock different varieties and different strengths of medications to fulfill the pharmaceutical needs of animals. Because the needs of animals as well as the regulations on veterinary medicine are often very different from those related to people, veterinary pharmacy is often kept separate from regular pharmacies.
See main article: Nuclear pharmacy. Nuclear pharmacy focuses on preparing radioactive materials for diagnostic tests and for treating certain diseases. Nuclear pharmacists undergo additional training specific to handling radioactive materials, and unlike in community and hospital pharmacies, nuclear pharmacists typically do not interact directly with patients.
Military pharmacy is an entirely different working environment due to the fact that technicians perform most duties that in a civilian sector would be illegal. State laws of Technician patient counseling and medication checking by a pharmacist do not apply.
See main article: Pharmacy informatics. Pharmacy informatics is the combination of pharmacy practice science and applied information science. Pharmacy informaticists work in many practice areas of pharmacy, however, they may also work in information technology departments or for healthcare information technology vendor companies. As a practice area and specialist domain, pharmacy informatics is growing quickly to meet the needs of major national and international patient information projects and health system interoperability goals. Pharmacists are well trained to participate in medication management system development, deployment and optimization.
In most jurisdictions (such as the United States), pharmacists are regulated separately from physicians. Specifically, the legislation stipulates that the practice of prescribing must be separate from the practice of dispensing. These jurisdictions also usually specify that only pharmacists may supply scheduled pharmaceuticals to the public, and that pharmacists cannot form business partnerships with physicians or give them "kickback" payments. However, the American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics provides that physicians may dispense drugs within their office practices as long as there is no patient exploitation and patients have the right to a written prescription that can be filled elsewhere. 7 to 10 percent of American physicians practices reportedly dispense drugs on their own.
In other jurisdictions (particularly in Asian countries such as China, Malaysia, and Singapore), doctors are allowed to dispense drugs themselves and the practice of pharmacy is sometimes integrated with that of the physician, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine.
In Canada it is common for a medical clinic and a pharmacy to be located together and for the ownership in both enterprises to be common, but licensed separately.
The reason for the majority rule is the high risk of a conflict of interest. Otherwise, the physician has a financial self-interest in "diagnosing" as many conditions as possible, and in exaggerating their seriousness, because he or she can then sell more medications to the patient. Such self-interest directly conflicts with the patient's interest in obtaining cost-effective medication and avoiding the unnecessary use of medication that may have side-effects. This system reflects much similarity to the checks and balances system of the U.S. and many other governments.
A campaign for separation has begun in many countries and has already been successful (like in Korea). As many of the remaining nations move towards separation, resistance and lobbying from dispensing doctors who have pecuniary interests may prove a major stumbling block (e.g. in Malaysia).
In the coming decades, pharmacists are expected to become more integral within the health care system. Rather than simply dispensing medication, pharmacists will be paid for their patient care skills.
This shift has already commenced in some countries; for instance, pharmacists in Australia receive remuneration from the Australian Government for conducting comprehensive Home Medicines Reviews. In the United Kingdom, pharmacists (and nurses) who undertake additional training are obtaining prescribing rights. They are also being paid for by the government for medicine use reviews. In the United States, pharmaceutical care or Clinical pharmacy has had an evolving influence on the practice of pharmacy. Moreover, the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree is now required before entering practice and many pharmacists now complete one or two years of residency or fellowship training following graduation. In addition, consultant pharmacists, who traditionally operated primarily in nursing homes are now expanding into direct consultation with patients, under the banner of "senior care pharmacy."
The two symbols most commonly associated with pharmacy are the mortar and pestle and the (recipere) character, which is often written as "rx" in typed text. The show globe was also used in English speaking countries until the early 20th century. Pharmacy organizations often use other symbols, such as the Bowl of Hygieia, conical measures, and caduceuses in their logos. Other symbols are common in different countries: the green Greek cross in France, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Spain, the increasingly-rare Gaper in The Netherlands, and a red stylized letter A in Germany and Austria (from Apotheke, the German word for pharmacy, from the same Greek root as the English word 'apothecary').