Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing drugs. It is a health profession that links health sciences with chemical sciences and aims to ensure the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.
The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing 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 use of medication for the benefit of the patients.
An establishment in which pharmacy (in the first sense) is practiced is called a pharmacy (this term is more common in the United States) or a chemist's (which is more common in Great Britain). In the United States and Canada, drugstores commonly sell drugs, as well as miscellaneous items such as confectionery, cosmetics, office supplies, and magazines and occasionally refreshments and groceries.
The word ''pharmacy'' is derived from its root word ''pharma'' which was a term used since the 15th–17th centuries. However, the original Greek roots from ''pharmakos'' imply sorcery or even poison. 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. Often the place that did this was called an apothecary and several languages have this as the dominant term, though their practices are more akin to a modern pharmacy, in English the term apothecary would today be seen as outdated or only approproriate if herbal remedies were on offer to a large extent. The pharmas also used many other herbs not listed. The Greek word ''Pharmakeia'' () derives from ''pharmakon'' (), meaning "drug", "medicine" (or "poison").〔.〕
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:
*Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are not always clear-cut.
Often, collaborative teams from various disciplines (pharmacists and other scientists) work together toward the introduction of new therapeutics and methods for patient care. However, pharmacy is not a basic or biomedical science in its typical form. Medicinal Chemistry,on its own, is also a distinct branch of science of synthetic chemistry combining pharmacology, organic chemistry, and chemical biology.
Pharmacology is sometimes considered as the 4th discipline of pharmacy. Although pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy, it is not specific to pharmacy. Both disciplines are distinct.Those who wish to practice both pharmacy (patient oriented) and pharmacology (a biomedical science requiring the scientific method) receive separate training and degrees unique to either discipline.
Pharmacoinformatics is considered another new discipline, for systematic drug discovery and development with efficiency and safety.
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