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The Evolution of Pharmacy

  • March 14, 2018
  • RPh on the Go

evolution of pharmacyPharmacies and the role of pharmacists have been evolving for centuries. It is a job that began with the ancients and continues to this very day. When we go through our day to day lives, it is difficult to imagine just how much it has changed. Change isn’t always welcomed with open arms. but when we take a look back, it can make you grateful to be a part of it.

In the Days of Yore

If we compare what we see in a pharmacy today to what we would think of as a pharmacy in Ancient Babylonia, it wouldn’t look all that similar. Pharmacies in the ancient world functioned as an apothecary. It is where the herbalist would put certain herbs and roots together for the patient. Physicians may drop in to pick up herbal concoctions to dispense to patients during an outbreak of illness. Patients might skip the doctor altogether for something like a cold and go to the apothecary. You can see the similarities when you think about the people who drop by a pharmacy with a question and are referred to a type of over-the-counter medicine to help them. It says the patient time and money, asserts the pharmacist as a knowledgeable resource and frees up the physician for more pressing matters. Not much has changed in that area!

Drastic Change of the 1950s

The 1950s brought about some of the biggest shifts to the pharmacy than in prior years. This is when manufactured medicines became popular and essentially took over the pharmaceutical market. Pharmacists now focused on compounding, labelling the pre-fab medicines, and dispersing the medications properly. In some places, you could still speak with a pharmacist who could instruct you in the same manner as the apothecary but laws began changing and limiting how much a pharmacist could do that. It may sound like a bad thing but the laws were about making sure that people were safe when picking up these new and manufactured medicines.

The ‘90s Brought the Clinical Pharmacy to Life

The one thing that lacked with the ‘50s model of the pharmacy was the connection between pharmacist, doctor, and patient. In the ‘90s, we saw that shift into what we now know as the clinical pharmacy. Rather than treating each part as a separate event, we now treat them as a team. Physicians should know more about the meds that can help their patients, the pharmacists should be speaking up on the best options for a particular patient, and the patient should be comfortable with both of them in order to feel empowered by their efforts to heal and be healthy.

Can It Change More?

The short answer is, YES! Nothing can stay the same and as we watch technological advances come to life, it will bring change to the pharmacy. We hope that the changes work in the best method for the patient, as they are what keeps the medical world moving and shaking. We hope that it keeps pharmacists wanting to work in pharmacy and making a difference. We hope to never lose the team model and always rally for the patient.


What are you excited about for the future of pharmacy? Comment below with your thoughts.

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