Beginning in 1950 pharmacy begin to change in many ways due to advances in technology. Just twenty years earlier pharmacists still compounded prescription medications. But with new technology and innovative pharmaceutical practices, the profession saw a twenty-five percent decrease in the need for compounding. New marketing techniques allowed for the production of packaged ready-made drugs. As a result, large pharmaceutical companies sprang up to keep up with demand.
Post World War II
After the second world war ended in 1945, many veterans dealt with drug addiction and became susceptible to adverse reactions due to taking dangerous medications. Government agencies together with watch groups worked to monitor the problem and find ways to reduce unnecessary injury and death resulting from the consumption of unmonitored drugs. Lawmakers addressed the issue by passing strict guidelines for the use and dispense of medication. Later in 1951 Congressman, Frank B. Keefe, of Wisconsin, put forth an amendment to the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This change defined the difference between over the counter and behind the counter meds.
This decade saw a growth in the availability of medications. Penicillin hit the market. Hospitals developed a system that allowed a pharmacist to dispense a generic product that mimicked a name brand product. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers’ protested this idea arguing that this would open up an unfair competitive product but complied with the law anyway.
Pharmaceutical centers begin with Eugene V. White who turned his drug store into an office type setting. He set the example for other pharmacy professionals to follow. Pharmacists’ role evolved to acting as a pharmaceutical consultant to customers. As a consultant, the pharmacist could apply more efficient safety controls for patients. Consulting was fruitful and lead to an ethics code established by the American Pharmacist Association and later cooperation with Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, expert pharmacists became the first line of inspection for accuracy and the communication of drug information between regulators and consumers. Third-party programs such as insurance agencies also required a pharmacist’s observation for accuracy and the necessity of prescriptions but still influenced consumers to purchase name brand drugs. Because of this, a thorough set up of further laws were in enacted to protect consumers.
Computers added relief to the pharmacy with the replacement of paperwork and tracked harmful drug interactions, doses, etc., thus improving prescription care for patients.
It seemed that over night, Walmart stores opened up in small towns across America and impacted small businesses to include corner drug stores. Many of these mall drug stores closed. A new demand for mail service prescriptions appeared as well. Managed patient care also became the norm. Pharmacies in the middle between patient and management companies needed to find ways to evolve with the times and so, pharmacy store management firms were created.
The 1990s and Beyond
Pharmacists worked to meet the demand of growing populations in need of pharmaceutical care. The pharmacy today is run by a bunch of support positions. Pharmacists are at the top of this management. As the new technologies, innovations and improvements are made in medical care, the support for pharmacy operation does as well.
The Future of Pharmacy
What will pharmacies look like in the future? What innovations can be created to speed up the waiting period for customers and their medications? How can we lower cost for these prescriptions for the consumer? What is the future role of pharmacist technicians and the pharmacists themselves?
These are a few questions to contemplate about when thinking about the future of pharmacy and may predict how the pharmacy profession will evolve for generations to come.
Higby, Gregory J. “The Continuing Evolution of American Pharmacy Practice, 1952–2002.” Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (1996), vol. 42, no. 1, 2002, pp. 12–15., doi:10.1331/108658002763538017.
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