How much do you know about the history of pharmacy? Below, we give a brief overview of the industry, pharmacy facts, and how it has evolved.
Don’t miss our short trivia quiz at the end to test your newfound knowledge.
A Brief History of Pharmacy
Pharmacy is as old as medicine itself. The earliest example ever found of pharmaceutical science was in ancient Mesopotamia, around 2100 BCE. The Papyrus Ebers, a collection of 700 prescriptions and remedies found in Egypt, dates back to around 1500 BCE.
In Europe, public pharmacies finally began appearing in the 13th century. King Frederick II passed a law that officially separated the professions of physicians and pharmacists, creating professional regulation for both in 1240.
In 1618, the first complete collection of approved drugs in English, the London Pharmacopoeia, was published. And by the mid-1700s, pharmaceutical science and practice had begun in America, after a hospital pharmacy was co-founded by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
The evolution of pharmacy practice increased with the Industrial Revolution through mass-produced, pre-packaged medication and inventions like the rotary tablet press. This first wave of pharmacy technology in America became the foundation for the industry’s greatest era yet: the 20th century.
Did You Know?
- In 1970, the first electronic portable digital tablet counter was invented by John Kirby.
- In the early 1980s, Leon Faber discovered how to store and play digitized speech and process any responses, leading to the original IVR system.
- Pagers or beepers, first commercially available in the 1980s, were widely used for patient and healthcare provider communication until recently.
Despite its long history, pharmacy, as we know it today, has evolved rapidly in the past few decades. Time-honored methods like compounding by hand may remain, but how pharmacists practice, the technology they use, and how they communicate with patients have all changed.
Mobile health apps, IVR systems, and secure messaging have all seen widespread adoption, giving patients the tools to connect digitally with healthcare providers. Telemedicine and tele-pharmacy have also grown in popularity, due to an aging population and the restrictions of COVID-19.
The role of the pharmacist has changed as well. Pharmacists today are expected to have an active online presence and provide their patients with a seamless omnichannel experience to stay competitive in a digital world.
Quick Pharmacy Trivia
Are you ready to test your pharmacy history knowledge? You may even find some of the pharmacy facts in our short history above:
- When did King Frederick II officially divide pharmacists and physicians into separate professions?
- Who was the first hospital pharmacy in America co-founded by?
- How often do people download health mobile apps every year?
- How many seniors use a wearable to monitor their health?
- Who was the first company to create an automated pill dispenser with telemedicine capabilities this year?
At Digital Pharmacist, we know that technology shapes how pharmacies communicate and thrive. To learn more about how we can help you transform your business, get in touch.
(Answers: 1240, Benjamin Franklin, 3.7 billion times a year, one-third, MedMinder)