What is Science-Based Pharmacy?

To answer this, let’s consider three separate questions.

  1. What is a pharmacist?
  2. What is modern pharmacy practice?
  3. What do you mean, science-based pharmacy?

Let’s start with the term, pharmacist.  Among the health professionals, only the pharmacist has medications at the core of his training. Training is university level, and after four to six years of training, graduates emerge with Bachelor or Doctorate degrees. The pharmacy curriculum is rigorous and includes anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutics.  New pharmacists are well trained to prevent, identify, and resolve drug-related problems.

At its heart, modern pharmacy practice is now squarely at the intersection of modern medicine and Main Street. No other health professional is as readily available as a pharmacist. As more and more formerly fatal diseases are fast becoming chronic illnesses due to remarkably innovative new medications (e.g., HIV and cancer therapies), the pharmacist’s role is changing from being simply the dispenser of medicines to a health professional well positioned to help people access and use medications more effectively and rationally. An in some areas, pharmacists are earning limited prescribing privileges.

Pharmacists can work in a variety of settings – not all of them pharmacies: Hospitals, long-term care, insurance companies and government are areas you’ll find pharmacists working. But the vast majority of pharmacists (at least in North America) work in the the “community” or retail pharmacy setting – the local drug store. So for most pharmacists, practicing their profession means being both an entrepreneur as well as a health professional.

Retail pharmacies can vary widely, from a pharmacy counter with almost no “front shop”, to mega-boxes where the pharmacist is hidden at the back behind the cosmetics, milk, and sadly, often lots and lots of  unproven, pseudoscientific, questionable products – quackery. Continue reading