The Fascinating History of the Pharmacy

Though often overlooked, pharmacies are critical healthcare centers. Without pharmacies, patients would need to depend entirely on hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices and other facilities for their treatment and care, which would further complicate medical practices and slow down the delivery of services. Fortunately, pharmacies exist — and in many ways, pharmacies predate other providers of modern healthcare by a wide margin.

If you are interested in taking pharmacy tech classes and building a career in the pharmaceutical sciences, you might be interested in learning more about how pharmacies developed into what we know and rely on today.

The Earliest Pharmacies

There is evidence of humankind engaging with pharmaceutical study long before written language. Buried in prehistoric gravesites, concealed in prehistoric middens and depicted in prehistoric cave paintings and other artworks are plenty of plants and minerals known to have pharmaceutical effects, most notably pain relief but also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects on different bodily systems. As long as humans have been suffering medical maladies, pharmacy-minded individuals eager to provide solutions have existed.

The first obvious evidence of pharmacy as we know it today occurred in Mesopotamia around 2400 B.C.E., when human civilization was just beginning. On Sumerian cuneiform tablets are written prescriptions for poultices, salves and washes for specific health conditions. Records show that Mesopotamian pharmacists were methodically trained to ensure that they could provide the best possible care to their ailing patients, and many functioned not dissimilar to modern-day doctors, offering both drugs and treatments like surgery to combat disease. From this example, many other civilizations and cultures developed their own systems and guidelines for administering medicine to patients in need.

Pharmacies in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, people endeavored to better understand the development and spread of diseases with the hope of controlling and eventually eradicating certain illnesses from the human population. Massive support for this endeavor came largely from the pharmacy guilds across Europe, which helped spread useful information about diseases and cures to apothecaries, who functioned as the main healthcare providers in most communities.

It is worth noting that during this period and all that preceded it, the practice of pharmacy was not based entirely in the science we know and employ today. Rather, apothecaries mixed the same pharmaceutical plants used since prehistory with myth and magic, diluting the effectiveness of the treatments or adding unnecessary and costly steps. Fortunately, throughout the Middle Ages advancements in scientific practice reduced the fanciful elements of apothecaries and gave rise to the recognizable and reliable pharmacy.

The Rise of the American Pharmacy

Colonists brought over European pharmaceutical practices when they came to America, and the first New World apothecary opened in Philadelphia in 1729. Soon, the foundation of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) helped to standardize pharmaceutical practices throughout the states and colonies, developing systems that improved the quality of care patients were apt to receive. The USP still functions today — though its operations have become much more diverse and complex.

For some time in the 20th century, pharmacies became retail hubs in small towns across America. As industrialization allowed for the manufacture and distribution of pre-made medications, pharmacists looked for other services to provide to patrons. Many drug stores also functioned as soda fountains, where members of the community could relax and purchase all manner of exciting treats, from sodas and ice cream to candies and even practical household items. In many ways, pharmacies still serve this purpose, though they are becoming pre-manufactured in their ice cream and soda options.

The Ever-evolving Pharmacy

Starting in the 1960s, pharmacists refocused on the medical aspect of their businesses and began viewing customers as patients in need of healthcare advice. Because pharmacists have access to a significant amount of patient data, they can be valuable tools in guiding patients toward safer, more effective and more affordable treatment alternatives. Today, ethical standards determine what kind of advice pharmacists can offer — after all, pharmacists receive vastly different medical training from doctors and nurses — but patient care remains a vital component of a pharmacist’s role in the healthcare system.

Humans have been practicing pharmacy for far longer than we can remember, and pharmacies will continue to be an essential element of healthcare for the foreseeable future. By launching a healthcare career in pharmacy today, you can give yourself an important position in your community and a career that will reward you for years to come.

In pharmacy, what software do they use?

Pharmacies rely on various software tools to optimize their operations and enhance patient care. Pharmacy management systems, electronic health records, medication dispensing software, and drug interaction databases are key components. These applications streamline tasks such as prescription processing, inventory management, and ensure accurate dispensing while providing critical information to pharmacists for informed decision-making and improved patient safety. Learn more

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Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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