Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing as well as dispensing drugs and medicines. 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 practised is called a pharmacy, chemist's or drugstore. In the United States and Canada, drug stores commonly sell not only medicines, but also miscellaneous items such as candy (sweets), cosmetics, office supplies, and magazines, as well as light refreshments or 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. The pharmas also used many other herbs not listed.
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.