Pharmacy is the health profession that links the health sciences with the chemical sciences and it is charged with ensuring the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs. The word derives from the Greek: φάρμακον (pharmakon), meaning "drug" or "medicine" (the earliest form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek pa-ma-ko, attested in Linear B syllabic script).
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 medication use to provide patients with positive health outcomes.
An establishment in which pharmacy (in the first sense) is practiced is called a pharmacy, chemist's or drug store. In the United States and Canada, drug stores commonly sell not only medicines, but also miscellaneous items such as candy (sweets), cosmetics, 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. 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.