Pharmacy (from the Greek φάρμακον = drug) is the health profession that links thehealth sciences with the chemical sciences, and it is charged with ensuring the safe use of medication. The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing medications on the orders of physicians, and it also includes more modern services related to patient care, including clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy, and providing drug information.Pharmacists, therefore, are experts on drug therapy and are the primary health professionals who optimize medication use to provide patients with positive health outcomes.

The field of Pharmacy can generally be divided into three primary disciplines:
1) Pharmaceutics
2) Medicinal chemistry and Pharmacognosy
3) Pharmacy practice

The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are not always clear-cut; and often, collaborative teams from various disciplines research together. Pharmacology is sometimes considered a fourth discipline of pharmacy. Although pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy, it is not specific to pharmacy. Therefore it is usually considered to be a field of the broader sciences.

There are various specialties of pharmacy practice. Specialization in pharmacy practice is typically based on the place of practice or practice roles including: community, hospital, clinical pharmacy, consultant, locum, drug information, regulatory affairs, industry, and academia.
Other specializations in pharmacy practice recognized by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties include: cardiovascular, infectious disease, oncology, pharmacotherapy, nuclear, nutrition, and psychiatry. The Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy certifies pharmacists in geriatric pharmacy practice. The American Board of Applied Toxicology certifies pharmacists and other medical professionals in applied toxicology.

Pharmacy practice

Pharmacy practice is the discipline of pharmacy which involves developing the professional roles of pharmacists.
Areas of pharmacy practice include:

  • Disease-state management
  • Clinical interventions (refusal to dispense a drug, recommendation to change and/or add a drug to a patient's pharmacotherapy, dosage adjustments, etc.)
  • Professional development
  • Pharmaceutical care
  • Extemporaneous pharmaceutical compounding
  • Communication skills
  • Health psychology
  • Patient care
  • Drug abuse prevention
  • Prevention of drug interactions, including drug-drug interactions or drug-food interactions
  • Prevention (or minimization) of adverse events
  • Incompatibility
  • Drug discovery and evaluation

Detect pharmacotherapy-related problems, such as:

  • The patient is taking a drug which he/she does not need.
  • The patient is taking a drug for a specific disease, other than one afflicting the patient.
  • The patient needs a drug for a specific disease, but is not receiving it.
  • The patient is taking a drug underdosed.
  • The patient is taking a drug overdosed.
  • The patient is having an adverse effect to a specific drug.
  • The patient is suffering from a drug interaction.

The future of pharmacy

In the coming decades, pharmacists are expected to become more integral within the health care system. Rather than simply dispensing medication, pharmacists will be paid for their patient care skills.

This paradigm shift has already commenced in some countries; for instance, pharmacists in Australia receive remuneration from the Australian Government for conducting comprehensive Home Medicines Reviews. In the United Kingdom, pharmacists (and nurses) who undertake additional training are obtaining prescribing rights. They are also being paid for by the government for medicine use reviews. In the United States, the Clinical pharmacy movement has had an evolving influence on the practice of pharmacy. Moreover, the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree is now required before entering practice and many pharmacists now complete one or two years of residency training following graduation. In addition, consultant pharmacists, who traditionally operated primarily in nursing homes are now expanding into direct consultation with patients, under the banner of "senior care pharmacy."