From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing, dispensing, and reviewing drugs and providing additional clinical services. It is a health profession that links health sciences with pharmaceutical sciences and aims to ensure the safe, effective, and affordable use of drugs. The professional practice is becoming more clinically oriented as most of the drugs are now manufactured by pharmaceutical industries. Based on the setting, the pharmacy is classified as a community or institutional pharmacy. Providing direct patient care in the community of institutional pharmacies are considered clinical pharmacy.

The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing of medications, and it also includes more modern services related to health 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 the use of medication for the benefit of the patients.

History[edit | edit source]

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 the medical arts. The profession began with the establishment of the first pharmacy shop in Baghdad in the 8th century, and by the 9th century, these shops were state-regulated.

Education and Training[edit | edit source]

In many countries, pharmacists must hold a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree to practice. This requires completing undergraduate coursework, passing a series of examinations, and completing a certain number of hours in a pharmacy practice setting. In addition to the Pharm.D., a pharmacist may obtain certification in a specific area of practice, such as geriatric pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, psychiatric pharmacy, and others.

Roles and Responsibilities[edit | edit source]

Pharmacists have many roles and responsibilities, including:

  • Dispensing medications and ensuring the safety and appropriateness of the prescribed therapy.
  • Conducting wellness and health screenings.
  • Providing immunizations.
  • Managing medication therapy.
  • Providing advice on healthy lifestyles.

Community Pharmacy[edit | edit source]

A community pharmacy is a healthcare facility that emphasizes providing pharmaceutical services to a specific community. It is the most common type of pharmacy, and it is where most pharmacists practice. The main responsibilities of a community pharmacist include dispensing prescription drugs, providing information about medications, and advising on the over-the-counter drugs.

Hospital Pharmacy[edit | edit source]

Hospital pharmacies are pharmacies within the premises of a hospital that stock a larger range of medications, including more specialized and investigational medications. 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.

Clinical Pharmacy[edit | edit source]

Clinical pharmacy is a branch of pharmacy that involves the provision of patient care with the use of medications to optimize the health outcomes of patients. This involves working in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, community pharmacies, and in primary care. Clinical pharmacists often work in collaboration with physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals.

Regulatory Affairs[edit | edit source]

Pharmacists are also involved in the regulation of pharmaceuticals. This includes working with regulatory agencies to ensure the safety and efficacy of medications available to the public. Pharmacists in regulatory affairs may work in areas such as drug approvals, quality control, drug safety, and pharmacovigilance.

Pharmaceutical Industry[edit | edit source]

Pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry are involved in the development, production, and marketing of medications. They may work in research and development, production, quality control, or marketing. Their work involves ensuring that medications are safe and effective for patient use.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Pharmacy is a diverse and evolving field. With the advancement of medical science, pharmacists continue to play a crucial role in healthcare through the safe and effective use of medications. As medication experts, pharmacists are essential in the healthcare system, ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD