Pharmacy is derived from Old French farmacie "substance, such as a food or in the form of a medicine

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Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing, dispensing, and reviewing drugs and providing additional clinical services. It is a health profession that links health sciences with pharmaceutical sciences and aims to ensure the safe, effective, and affordable use of drugs. The professional practice is becoming more clinically oriented as most of the drugs are now manufactured by pharmaceutical industries. Based on the setting, the pharmacy is classified as a community or institutional pharmacy. Providing direct patient care in the community of institutional pharmacies are considered clinical pharmacy. The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing of 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 the use of medication for the benefit of the patients.

The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are not always clear-cut. Often, collaborative teams from various disciplines (pharmacists and other scientists) work together toward the introduction of new therapeutics and methods for patient care. However, pharmacy is not a basic or biomedical science in its typical form. Medicinal chemistry is also a distinct branch of synthetic chemistry combining pharmacology, organic chemistry, and chemical biology. Pharmacology is sometimes considered as the 4th discipline of pharmacy. Although pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy, it is not specific to pharmacy. Both disciplines are distinct. Those who wish to practice both pharmacy (patient-oriented) and pharmacology (a biomedical science requiring the scientific method) receive separate training and degrees unique to either discipline. Pharmacoinformatics is considered another new discipline, for systematic drug discovery and development with efficiency and safety.Pharmacogenomics is the study of genetic-linked variants that effect patient clinical responses, allergies, and metabolism of drugs.

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals with specialized education and training who perform various roles to ensure optimal health outcomes for their patients through the quality use of medicines. Pharmacists may also be small-business proprietors, owning the pharmacy in which they practice. Since pharmacists know about the mode of action of a particular drug, and its metabolism and physiological effects on the human body in great detail, they play an important role in optimization of drug treatment for an individual. Pharmacists are represented internationally by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). They are represented at the national level by professional organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the UK, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PSA), Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA), Pakistan Pharmacists Association (PPA), and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). (See also: List of pharmacy associations.) In the United States, specializations in pharmacy practice recognized by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties include: cardiovascular, infectious disease, oncology, pharmacotherapy, nuclear, nutrition, and psychiatry.

The earliest known compilation of medicinal substances was the Sushruta Samhita, an Indian Ayurvedic treatise attributed to Sushruta in the 6th century BC. However, the earliest text as preserved dates to the 3rd or 4th century AD. In Ancient Greece, Diocles of Carystus (4th century BC) was one of several men studying the medicinal properties of plants. He wrote several treatises on the topic. The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides is famous for writing a five-volume book in his native Greek Περί ύλης ιατρικής in the 1st century AD. The Latin translation De Materia Medica (Concerning medical substances) was used a basis for many medieval texts and was built upon by many middle eastern scientists during the Islamic Golden Age.

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