Drug Topics: 160 years strong


As Drug Topics celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, we want to show you how far the profession of pharmacy has come.

Julia TalsmaDrug Topics celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, and we want to provide you with some perspective to demonstrate how far your profession has developed.

With the advances in technology, drug therapy, and healthcare reform, the practice of community and health-system pharmacy continues to evolve dramatically. Yet your role as providers has not really changed that much. The patient still comes first.

Retail pharmacists

In this month’s cover story, Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart takes you on a historical journey through community pharmacy, from the first apothecary Louis Hébert, who set up shop in 1605 in the vicinity of today’s Nova Scotia, through the end of the 18th century, when apothecaries were in almost every U.S. city, most physicians mixed and dispensed medications, and most pharmacists treated patients.

The 19th century marked the beginning of formal pharmacy education with the opening of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1821; then came the establishment of the American Pharmaceutical Association (today’s American Pharmacists Association) in 1888. In addition, drug companies and chemical companies began to expand their research and development, and to commercialize standardized pharmaceutical products.

By the early 20th century, the market for manufactured medicine and the growing urbanization of America gave rise to the drugstore chains. But don’t count out the independents, according to Justin Wilson, PharmD. While a number of independents have disappeared, those with business acumen will survive.

See also: Retail pharmacy returns to primary care

Health-system pharmacists

Health-system pharmacy has continued to evolve over the last half century. Journalist Anthony Vecchione covers pharmacist’ important role on the interprofessional healthcare team as they participate in physician rounds, develop pharmaceutical care plans, and create medication therapy management strategies for patients.

Over time the role of the pharmacist has evolved into a more clinically focused position. For example, health-system pharmacists have made great inroads in emergency medicine, following the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 1999 report on medical errors.

In the area of clinical ambulatory care pharmacy, pharmacists gained ground during the 1970s when the Indian Health Service developed the Pharmacy Practitioner Training Program, positioning pharmacists as patient care providers for those with chronic diseases.

Critical care pharmacy has only been a recognized concern for about 35 years. Today, ICU patient safety has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of pharmacists in the reduction of preventable adverse events.

See also: Five top trends for health-system pharmacies in 2016


Pharmacy education

Lucinda L. Maine, PhD, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, reviews the evolution of pharmacy education since the mid-19th century.

Did you know that from 1929 until 1969, pharmacists were not permitted to discuss a physician’s prescription with a patient? Maine reminds us how challenging it was to practice pharmacy during those years, in light of this onerous restriction.

By 1969, the role of the pharmacist had shifted from strictly dispensing medications to a focus on patient care. Pharmacy educators began to reimagine the profession and adjust the curriculum to expand the role of the pharmacist.

By the 1970s, pharmacy institutions started the transition from the BS to the PharmD degree, hiring clinical faculty members to teach the enriched, expanded curriculum. Today, the PharmD degree is a requirement for all students who want to practice pharmacy.

Our archives

Starting this month and continuing through the year, we plan to offer some glimpses into Drug Topics’ past, decade by decade.

Did you know? In the early 1900s, Drug Topics was the house organ of drug wholesaler McKesson & Robbins, boasting a circulation of more than 12,000 at an annual subscription rate of 25 cents. During that time, Drug Topics’ primary mission was to “educate, improve, and entertain the druggist, drug clerk, and drug trade” in general. We hope these interesting tidbits will do just that.

Also, don’t miss Drug Topics’ 160th Anniversary Quiz (inside). Good luck!

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