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The word pharmacist itself can be traced to the early Greeks. During the time of Aristotle, those who compounded drugs were called pharmakons. The word has changed little from its original form and still means approximately the same thing: one who compounds drugs, medicines, or poisons.

Pharmacy as a profession grew slowly in the United States. It is said that one of our earliest pharmacists was Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He learned to compound drugs because there were no other sources in the colony for obtaining medicines. The first school established to teach pharmacy in this country was the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, founded in 1821. It is still in operation today.

In 1906, the Federal Pure Food and Drug Act was passed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), created in 1931, must approve any pharmaceutical before it can be sold in the United States. The work of the pharmacist has become increasingly important because of the complexity and potential side effects of the thousands of medications now on the market.

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