History of Pharmacy in the UK

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History of Pharmacy in the UK

All of us know what a pharmacy is in its present day, but not so many of us know what it had to overcome to achieve what it has to get to where it is now. I have got a bit of a timeline below to follow to give you an idea of where pharmacies came from. And some of the events that happened along the way

Let’s start at the start. 1500 B.C

The history of pharmacy can be traced back to numerous ancient civilisations. However, at this point it was all natural/herbal remedies to treat patients. At this time the understanding was very plain ad simple. Nothing complex and pharmacists at this time would also combine their work to treat people with working as a priest in a temple.

460-370 B.C

The Life of Hippocrates. A.K.A the Father of Medicine. His period and the periods that followed in ancient Greece and During the Roman period are very important. This is due to them being much more advanced than many other nations in terms of their healthcare systems. This was the start of the period where a “pharmacist” was seen as a profession.

12th/13th Century

This is the time when pharmacy like shops are starting to appear, selling mostly herbal medicines to treat simple problems. The oldest pharmacy shop is set to be in Florence, Italy and claims that it was founded in 1240.


Industrial Revolution

A key turning point in pharmacy, this is the time where technology is starting to aid the creation of new drugs and processes. In Germany, dye manufacturers are perfecting the separation of organic compounds from tar and other natural mineral sources.


Obviously, a lot of the important events that have happened in pharmacy are to do with discovery of new medicines. The first important discovery occurred in 1820, when 2 French chemists discovered the alkaloid quinine which was extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree. This is an important medicine as it was used for malaria, hemroids and the treatment of varicose veins.


This was the time of the invention of aspirin by a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann and he did this by modifying salicylic acid to create acetylsalicylic acid.


The time when the Venereal Disease Act was introduced which introduced the concept of prescription only medicine, this is important because it gave pharmacists a more important role and made people look at them with more respect.


The one that most people are aware of, the year when Alexander Fleming discovered Penicillin. Something which is widely used and of use today. One of if not the most important discovery in the history of medicine.


First vaccine developed for influenza



Jonas Salk develops the first polio vaccine


HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is identified


First vaccine to target a cause of cancer



Community pharmacies granted use of electronic health records

Present Day

Pharmacies and hospitals and the people within them are constantly looking to improve and looking for the next big discovery or creation to help aid patients

Just imagine the changes within pharmacies over the next 5-10 years......We have another blog for you to read around some current changes in many pharmacies and hospitals across the country. TAKE A READ