In Baghdad the first pharmacies, or drug stores, were established in 754, under the Abbasid Caliphate during the Islamic Golden Age. By the 9th century, these pharmacies were state-regulated.
The advances made in the Middle East in botany and chemistry led medicine in medieval Islam substantially to develop pharmacology. Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes) (865-915), for instance, acted to promote the medical uses of chemical compounds. Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (Abulcasis) (936-1013) pioneered the preparation of medicines by sublimation and distillation. His Liber servitoris is of particular interest, as it provides the reader with recipes and explains how to prepare the `simples’ from which were compounded the complex drugs then generally used. Sabur Ibn Sahl (d 869), was, however, the first physician to initiate pharmacopoedia, describing a large variety of drugs and remedies for ailments. Al-Biruni (973-1050) wrote one of the most valuable Islamic works on pharmacology entitled Kitab al-Saydalah (The Book of Drugs), where he gave detailed knowledge of the properties of drugs and outlined the role of pharmacy and the functions and duties of the pharmacist. Ibn Sina (Avicenna), too, described no less than 700 preparations, their properties, mode of action and their indications. He devoted in fact a whole volume to simple drugs in The Canon of Medicine. Of great impact were also the works by al-Maridini of Baghdad and Cairo, and Ibn al-Wafid (1008–1074), both of which were printed in Latin more than fifty times, appearing as De Medicinis universalibus et particularibus by `Mesue‘ the younger, and the Medicamentis simplicibus by `Abenguefit‘. Peter of Abano (1250–1316) translated and added a supplement to the work of al-Maridini under the title De Veneris. Al-Muwaffaq’s contributions in the field are also pioneering. Living in the 10th century, he wrote The foundations of the true properties of Remedies, amongst others describing arsenious oxide, and being acquainted with silicic acid. He made clear distinction between sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate, and drew attention to the poisonous nature of copper compounds, especially copper vitriol, and also lead compounds. He also describes the distillation of sea-water for drinking.
In Europe pharmacy-like shops began to appear during the 12th century. In 1240 emperor Frederic II issued a decree by which the physician’s and the apothecary’s professions were separated.
In Europe there are old pharmacies still operating in Dubrovnik, Croatia located inside the Franciscan monastery, opened in 1317 ; and one in the Town Hall Square of Tallinn, Estonia dating from at least 1422.
The oldest pharmacy is claimed to be set up in 1221 in the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy, which now houses a perfume museum. The medieval Esteve Pharmacy, located in Llívia, a Catalan enclave close to Puigcerdà, is also now a museum dating back to the 15th century, keeping albarellos from the 16th and 17th centuries, old prescription books and antique drugs.
The Republic of Venice was the first State with health modern policies which requires that the nature of the drug is public. Actually thirteen secrets survive which were offered to sale to the Venetian Republic.
- Hadzovic, S (1997). “Pharmacy and the great contribution of Arab-Islamic science to its development”. Medicinski Arhiv (in Croatian). 51 (1-2): 47–50. ISSN 0025-8083. OCLC 32564530. PMID 9324574.
- al-Ghazal, Sharif Kaf (October 2003). “The valuable contributions of Al-Razi (Rhazes) in the history of pharmacy during the Middle Ages”(pdf). Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine. 2 (4): 9–11. ISSN 1303-667X. OCLC 54045642.
- Levey M. (1973), Early Arabic Pharmacology, E. J. Brill; Leiden.
- History of Pharmacy Web Pages – Sweden´s oldest pharmacies
- Families, medical secrets and Public Health in early modern Venice