—Pravallika Kurmala


“Derived from latin, the word Apothecarius (which means Storekeeper), turned to “APOTHECARY” and is the first name of the contemporary pharmacist. A long time ago in the public health era, far away there was a world where CVS or Walgreens storefronts were not on every corner and drug regulations were nonexistent. This was the time of apothecaries – those fascinating druggists who meticulously mixed herbs and minerals, adding a dash of animal fat and a bit of earwax all with the intention of curing the ailments of their fellow men. Historically, the term “apothecary” referred to both the person who manufactured and dispensed medicines, and the stores in which those medicines were sold. Though they remain staples of fantasy worlds like that of harry porter, apothecaries were not mystical, magical beings or peddlers of expensive oils, but highly valued and esteemed medical professionals. By the 15th & 16th Centuries, they gained the status of skilled practitioners. It is in the 19th Century the proper segmentation of medical profession has taken place defining the roles of General, Specialized and Surgeons in practice. The Apothecary became the PHARMACIST. By the 20th century, apothecaries were out and pharmacies were in and the old mortar and pestle has been replaced by drugs produced in factories.

The relentless pursuit of Jaber ibn Hayyan, the father of Chemistry  (721-815AD) and his work on the oldest known systemic classification of chemical substances, and instructions for deriving an inorganic compound from organic substances by chemical means is the modern day manufacture of medicine.

They used Sumerian cuneiform tablets to record prescription in pre-historic era.


 Before the 20th century, the medications were custom made where raw- ingredients were processed and made into medicines to suit an individual patient. Subsequently It has become more difficult to ascribe medical accomplishments to particular individuals which brought a change and turned them into today’s pharmaceutical industries. Mass production of medications brought community pharmacies into existence. The community pharmacist advices patients regarding drug interactions, toxicities, side effects, allergic reactions and adverse effects.

They also play a key role in the practice of over the counter medications.


Hygieia is the known symbol of Pharmacy.  It is represented as a cup or chalice, with a Snake entwined around its stem. Hygieia was also invoked, along with her father Asclepius (greek god of Medicine) and Panacea (greek goddess of Remedy) in the original Hippocratic Oath.

With the advances in the field of science and technology, production started on large scale and the necessity of pharmacist grew fourfold.

William Procter, Jr. was recognized as the “Father of American Pharmacy.” He was a practitioner, experimenter, editor, association leader and professor.


They are trained to play many roles like

1.            Dispensing prescriptions.

2.            Communicating with prescribers

3.            Ensure patients and conduct counsel 

4.            Work with patients on their general health.

5.            Deal with insurance

6.            Major role would be to deliver


Very true indeed, the job of the pharmacist begins as soon as the prescription leaves the doctor’s chamber. The responsibility of dispensing the correct medicine lies with the pharmacist. He is a  dependable friend and advisor to the layman, an unseen but intricately woven thread between the doctor and patient. The readily available mini doctor for general ailments like headache, stomach ache and such.


So, what is over the counter medication???

Medications obtained by patients for the treatment of common ailments without a prescription from a physician are known as over the counter medications. Pharmacists are trained and licensed to recommend OTC medications to patients only after asking appropriate questions.

OTC medications provide prevention and treatment for a wide range of conditions, including but not limited to headache, common cold, musculoskeletal pain, allergies, tobacco dependence and heart burn.

Inspite of the training they receive, the pharmacists can only help to a certain extent. There may be risk if the patient depends solely on the pharmacist for medicine. Hence, the first task of the pharmacist is to check with the patient if he has been to a doctor or advise him to see one immediately before he goes ahead to supply medicine  He should be affirmative and educate the patient that an improper diagnosis of condition may cause addiction issues on prolonged use, adverse drug reactions and drug interactions. This is the major reason why many pharmacists prefer to be within the hospital premises.

In tribute to the pharmacists across the world September 25th is celebrated as World Pharmacist Day

World Pharmacist Day was specifically chosen as the FIP came into existence on 25th September 1912.

The theme for this year’s World Pharmacists Day is ‘Safe and effective medicines for all’. This year’s theme aims at promoting pharmacists’ crucial role in safeguarding the patient’s safety through imparting information on how to use the medicine as per prescription and help reducing intake errors.

Tidbits: 1st pharmacist -LOUIS HEBERG.

1st Indian Pharmacist- MAHADEV LAL SCHROFF.

They are also lending an active hand in the fight against COVID-19 by increasing the vaccination coverage.


1)            The Largest Surviving Medical Treatise from Ancient Mesopotamia: History of Information [Internet]. Historyofinformation.com. 2020 [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: http://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=2525

2)            Effect of Communication on Collaborative Working [Internet]. NursingAnswers.net. 2020 [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: https://nursinganswers.net/essays/effect-communication-collaborative-8056.php

3)            Pharmacists Play a Key Role in Patient Self-Medication [Internet]. Pharmacy Times. 2020 [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/otc/2013/otcguide-2013/pharmacists-play-a-key-role-in-patient-self-medication

4)            Drug discovery [Internet]. En.wikipedia.org. 2020 [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_discovery

5)            Bowl of Hygieia [Internet]. En.wikipedia.org. 2020      [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowl_of_Hygieia

6)           Effect of Communication on Collaborative Working [Internet]. NursingAnswers.net. 2020 [cited 24 July 2020]. Available from: https://nursinganswers.net/essays/effect-communication-collaborative-8056.php

About Author:

Pravallika Kurmala

Dr Pravallika Kurmala is an Intern at PSIMs & RF Shadowing at Singari Laser ENT Hospital in her Second Year & under the tutelage of Dr Sarada (Sarada Nursing Home) in Final Year, she honed her techniques. Nimble fingered, she is skilled at using them to heal, doodle and art. Heartful soul is a musician too, she plays violin. Relaxes with baking. Practices Yoga. Aspiring to be a Neurologist, keeps abreast of the latest studies in the medical field.

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