A pharmacy that dispenses or sells medicines to ambulatory patients and is not a part of a hospital, a health centre or a clinic. Physically they are located apart from other health care units. In India majority of the community pharmacies are owned privately (private pharmacies).
Worldwide community pharmacist is the professional who would be in direct access to the public and whose duties are widely sought after by the public and patients. Around the world a vast majority of pharmacists are employed in community settings. Community pharmacy is the first level of contact of individuals of a community with health care. The community pharmacist plays a critical role in most health care systems. The organization of the practice of community pharmacy varies between developed and developing countries. However, the main functions and responsibilities are common. Today’s community pharmacists strive to work with their clients and patients to determine what patients’ requirements are and what care should be provided in order to meet these requirements.
In India community pharmacy is often referred to as retail pharmacy. The premises where community pharmacists work are legally known as chemists & druggists and the general population usually calls pharmacies ‘medical stores’. In many low and middle income countries including India, an overwhelming majority of community pharmacies are individually owned independent private stores. The private community pharmacies in India are increasingly reported as an important source of health advice and a main source of medicines.
Community pharmacists in India are either the owners of the community pharmacies or employed in these pharmacies. Until recently, a community pharmacy in India was referred to as a retail pharmacy. The general population usually calls community pharmacists as drug retailers or drug dispensers. Recently, the role of Indian community pharmacist is becoming increasingly felt by academics and pharmacy organizations, with a focus on pharmaceutical services in addition to the traditional role. Decades ago, compounding was key to the pharmacist’s role. Majority of the medicines had to be prepared extemporaneously by the pharmacist and dispensed the same to the patient against prescription of a registered medical practitioner. The duty also included collection, storage and distribution of raw materials as well as labeling of dispensed medications. It was a time when unique ready-to-use medicine was not developed, drug targets were rare to find, and medicinal dosages and drug delivery systems (DDS) were hard to optimize. As all we know, this situation has abruptly changed with the scientific revolution of pharmaceutical technology. The traditional manipulative expertise role of the pharmacist has been taken over by the modern advanced machinery and computers. The community pharmacists have lost control over so-called compounding role, and the role has changed to being focused not on the medicine itself but on the medicine user.