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Community pharmacy

A pharmacy is a retail shop which provides prescription drugs, among other products. At the pharmacy, a pharmacist oversees the fulfillment of medical prescriptions and is available to give advice on their offerings of over-the-counter drugs. A typical pharmacy would be in the commercial area of a community. Community pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to the public.

They supply medicines in accordance with a prescription or, when legally permitted, sell them without a prescription. In addition to ensuring an accurate supply of appropriate products, their professional activities also cover counseling of patients at the time of dispensing of prescription and non-prescription drugs, drug information to health professionals, patients and the general public, and participation in health-promotion programmes.

They maintain links with other health professionals in primary health care. Today, an increasingly wide range of new and analogous products are used in medicine, including high-technology biological products and radio-pharmaceuticals. There is also the heterogeneous group of medical devices, which includes some products analogous to medicines, some of which demand special knowledge with regard to their uses and risks (e.g., dressings, wound management products, etc.). The pharmacist verifies the legality, safety and appropriateness of the prescription order, checks the patient medication record before dispensing the prescription (when such records are kept in the pharmacy), ensures that the quantities of medication are dispensed accurately, and decides whether the medication should be handed to the patient, with appropriate counselling, by a pharmacist. In many countries, the community pharmacist is in a unique position to be fully aware of the patient’s past and current drug history and, consequently, can provide essential advice to the prescriber.