Pharmacy is the health science that links medical science with chemistry and it is charged with the discovery, production, control, disposal, safe and effective use of drugs. The practice of pharmacy requires excellent knowledge of drugs, their mechanism of action, side effects, interactions, mobility and toxicity. At the same time, it requires knowledge of treatment and understanding of the pathological process. Some specialties of pharmacists, such as that of clinical pharmacists, require other skills, e.g. knowledge about the acquisition and evaluation of physical and laboratory data.
The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing of 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 the 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 medicines, as well as miscellaneous items such as confectionery, cosmetics, office supplies, toys, hair care products and magazines and occasionally refreshments and groceries.
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 is also a distinct branch 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. Pharmacogenomics is the study of genetic-linked variants that effect patient clinical responses, allergies, and metabolism of drugs.