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Entrance to a pharmacy in Oldenburg with logo, unicorn and historical depictions of pharmacists (around 1900)
The Mohren pharmacy in Bayreuth
The old pharmacy from 1889 in Bremen- Hemelingen
Mobile pharmacy in the municipality of Pomßen , Saxony, 1988

A pharmacy is a place where drugs and medical products are dispensed, tested and manufactured. In addition, one of the main tasks of the pharmacist and other pharmacy staff is to advise customers, inform them about side effects and discover possible interactions with other drugs . In addition to dispensing pharmaceuticals, pharmacies also sell “pharmacy-standard items” such as dietary supplements, cosmetic products and other goods with a health-promoting aspect.


Word origin

The word "pharmacy" (Middle High German Apoteke , "pharmacy Stores grocery") comes via Latin apotheca ( medieval Latin Apoteca ) of ancient Greek ἀποθήκη Pharmacy ( apo , 'from' away '; counter :, box, storage room, pantry, container, Counter ', from τιθέναι tithenai' to set, set, lay '), which literally means' storage (warehouse, filing, defeat, depot, repository, storage)' for supplies in general. For Galenos , apoteca meant a storage place for books. As with the Roman agrarian writer Columella , it often referred to the wine store, which is usually upstairs in the house, where the wine was kept in amphorae. In monasteries, the Latin apotheca was the name given to the room for storing medicinal herbs (“herb chamber”). In the High Middle Ages, apotheca usually referred to a store of goods, a general store or a sales booth for spices, operated by the apothecarius .


Pharmacy lettering and logo

In Germany and Austria, the pharmacy fulfills the legal mandate as part of the health system to ensure the proper supply of medicines to the population. This is regulated in the respective pharmacy laws ( Germany , Austria ).

In Switzerland, on the other hand, the dispensing of medication is regulated in the Therapeutic Products Act, according to which pharmacists are allowed to dispense medication, and since pharmacists are regulated by the cantons, 14 cantons are aware of self- dispensation by doctors. Such self-dispensation exists in Germany only in the form of the veterinary house pharmacy , in Austria in the form of the medical house pharmacy for human medicinal products and in the form of the veterinary house pharmacy. This is a delivery point.

In Germany, compliance with the legal requirements is monitored by the federal states. In North Rhine-Westphalia , full-time official pharmacists in the districts and urban districts are responsible for monitoring.

Selling medicines

Pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs because they are special goods and often require special explanations and advice. While in Germany and Austria only pharmacies are allowed to sell drugs, in Switzerland self- dispensation by doctors is allowed.

The sale must be carried out by pharmaceutical personnel. In Germany, pharmacies with a mail order license are also allowed to sell drugs by mail across national borders.

Regulations for regulating the sales prices of pharmaceuticals can be found in Germany in the pharmaceutical price ordinance , for Switzerland the Federal Office of Public Health is responsible, it produces a list of specialties (SL).

Management of the pharmacy

Pharmacies may only be run by a state-certified pharmacist .

In Germany, for four weeks per year, e.g. B. because of illness or vacation of the pharmacist, a substitution by a pharmaceutical engineer or pharmacist assistant; In the case of absence of up to three months or in the case of a main or hospital pharmacy, representation by a pharmacist is mandatory.


Pharmacy (representation from 1508)
Modern illustration of a medieval apothecary, Archeon
Sales room of a pharmacy around 1900
Modernized pharmacy in Berlin-Lichtenberg , 1991

In the 8th and 9th centuries there were drug and spice dealers in the Arab world - in Baghdad and Damascus - who, together with the medicinal monks of the Western monasteries , could be described as the forerunners of the pharmacists.

Critical comments in Liber iste , in Circa instans and in Guido d'Arezzo the Younger (in Liber mitis around 1170) as well as a pharmacist's oath from Montpellier in France from 1180 indicate that the profession of pharmacist also existed in the west of the 12th century .

Around 1241, the Staufer Emperor Frederick II in the Kingdom of Sicily issued the “ Edict of Salerno ” (also called “Constitutiones” or medical regulations): the first legally established separation of the professions of doctor and pharmacist . Doctors were not allowed to own or be involved in a pharmacy. Drug prices were set by law to prevent price gouging. The Edict of Salerno became the model for pharmacy legislation across Europe.

After the enactment of the medical ordinance, municipal pharmacy ordinances emerged in which it was stipulated that pharmacies may only be established for the sale of medicines.

In the course of the 14th century, the pharmacists changed from hawkers to wealthy patricians , who not only sold medicinal plants , spices and drugs, but also produced medicines in the pharmacy (Latin officina ) himself . The oldest pharmacy in Europe, which is still operated in the same location today, also dates from this time: A document from 1241 with the seal of the city of Trier ( State Main Archives Koblenz ) documents the donation of a pharmacy on Trier's main market. Today it bears the name Löwen-Apotheke. Since the year 1317 is located in the Franciscan monastery of the city of Dubrovnik one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe . The Tallinn Ratsapotheke is also one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe that is still in operation today.

The oldest verifiable officers in Russia led by pharmacists of German origin were in Riga (1357) and Reval (1421).

Pharmaceutical production later shifted from the dispensing to the prescription , but still today (in specialist circles) the sales room, the work rooms of a pharmacy or (outdated) the pharmacy itself are referred to as dispensing.

Since the profitability of pharmacies was also heavily dependent on epidemics and epidemics back then, there were supply problems in some places if they did not occur for a long time. In order to prevent this, so-called landscape pharmacies were established in the 15th century, for example in Lower Austria by the provincial authorities .

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the German pharmacies developed from a place of drug production, due to knowledge of chemistry, to a place of drug research. Pharmaceutical-chemical research and teaching in Germany was concentrated primarily in Berlin, Thuringia and Saxony.

One of the first homeopathic pharmacies was the one in Neudietenburg in the Duchy of Saxony-Gotha by Theodor Lappe (1802–1882), which also supplied Samuel Hahnemann and is mentioned in 1832 by Ludwig Griesselich . The pharmacist Lappe belonged to the Central Association of Homeopathic Doctors in Germany , whose members also included other pharmacists. One of the best-known and most enterprising homeopathic pharmacists was Willmar Schwabe (1839–1917) in Leipzig.

Due to the achievements of the pharmaceutical industry , the German pharmacy began to change over at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Instead of producing drugs themselves, the pharmacy is increasingly concerned with checking the quality and identity of drugs and providing advice on all aspects of drugs.

In 1958, following a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court (see pharmacy judgment ), the freedom of establishment for pharmacies was introduced, so that since then every pharmacist has been able to open a pharmacy at the location of his choice regardless of need. Because of the drug price ordinance , which up to now has set uniform drug prices for the whole of Germany, the competition did not take place on the basis of price, but in part through the granting of so-called add-ons, but above all on the professional competence of pharmaceutical advice, the ability to deliver, the service, friendliness, or special additional services (drug delivery service for customers who cannot come to the pharmacy themselves, increased competence in special product ranges, etc.). The drug price regulation has been relaxed for some time; It is feared that this will result in increased competition on the basis of price and at the expense of pharmaceutical quality, as competent advice is personnel and time-consuming and can only be provided with highly qualified specialists, which in turn leads to higher operating costs than just selling.

In the Soviet occupation zone , the German Economic Commission (DWK) ordered the expropriation of the pharmacies on June 22, 1949 and all rights were declared extinguished. Owners who were pharmacists themselves were given the right to continue running the business as a “privately owned pharmacy” if the operating taxes were paid. Pharmacies leased by the owners or heirs became “state pharmacies”, and the owners received a share of the “operating taxes” as compensation. It was not until 1954 that the exact amounts of the compensation were set and amounted to 30 to 50% of the average annual turnover, minus possible amounts owed to the pharmacies. The payment was made after five years according to the planned economy.

Newly built pharmacies in the German Democratic Republic ( GDR ) were basically "state pharmacies" that were leased or managed as polyclinic pharmacies. The number of "privately owned pharmacies" was around 298 out of 1,533 pharmacies (= 19.4%) in 1956 and the number steadily decreased until there were only "state pharmacies" or pharmacies at polyclinics. Because of the poor economic opportunities, many fully trained pharmacists emigrated to the West from 1951 onwards, so that the state leadership was forced to use so-called pharmaceutical engineers as medium-sized medical staff trained at technical schools, e.g. B. the then Pharmacy School Leipzig to introduce.

In the 21st century, the pharmacy has turned into a profitable and modern company in many places. In Germany, 19,423 pharmacies supplied the population with medication in 2018.


The historical development of pharmacy, the extraction of active ingredients, the production of medicines and the profession of pharmacist also bring the museums that deal with these topics closer. There are around 40 of them in Germany, such as the German Pharmacy Museum in Heidelberg. The Pharmacy History Museum of the University of Basel houses one of the world's largest collections on the history of pharmacy. Other pharmacy museums can be found in Brixen , Lisbon or Budapest , for example .

The pharmacy in Germany

Identification of the pharmacy

Today's hallmark

Today's trademark of the pharmacy, design: Fritz Rupprecht Mathieu , 1951

Since 1951, the design by Fritz Rupprecht Mathieu with the aesculapian snake and medicament has been used in West Germany . It is based on a design by Ernst Paul Weise , who won first prize in a competition organized by the German Pharmacists' Association in 1936 for a new pharmacy logo. The symbol is also known as the "bowl of Hygieia ". The pharmacy A - according to the statutes of signs, a red "large Gothic A on a white background with a white medicine with a snake" - is registered with the German Patent Office as the official association symbol of the German Pharmacists Association (DAV) and may only be used in the form mentioned and under strict conditions In accordance with the statutes of symbols.

The Apotheken-A is only common in Germany. The international symbol, the Green Cross, is less common here . In places with international public traffic - such as metropolitan train stations or airports - this is sometimes used in addition to the Apotheken-A.

Historic license plates

For centuries, the pharmacist was marked on pictorial representations by the hand scale. However, the need for a uniform pharmacy logo did not arise until the 20th century. Initially, the white cross on a red background was often used, but this was legally problematic because of the similarity to the Swiss national coat of arms. In addition, this symbol was just as unclear as the mortar used occasionally, because the drugstores also used both symbols.

A clear, uniform Germany-wide logo was required to distinguish it. In 1929/30 the Verunda company won the “three-spoon bottle” symbol, inspired by the Bauhaus school, which symbolizes taking a liquid medicine three times a day. After five years it was used by around a third of all pharmacies; however, it remained controversial because of its "shockingly modern" style. The allegedly only surviving three-spoon symbol is shown in the German Pharmacy Museum in Heidelberg Castle .

Another competition in 1936 was won under the aegis of the "Reichsapothekenführer" Albert Schmierer vom red A, who had been in office since 1933 ; but the white cross originally intended in the design was discarded because of its similarity to the Swiss cross and replaced by the "contemporary" life rune . The new Apotheken-A was introduced across the board in 1937. This symbol quickly achieved a very high level of awareness. After the war, however, the use of runic symbols was no longer permitted, so that the familiar symbol had to be redesigned.

Stuffed crocodile in a historic pharmacy ( Pharmacy Museum in Heidelberg Castle )

In historical images of pharmacies there is often a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling . The reptile was considered alien and exotic, and anything that met these criteria was considered healthy and was commonly viewed as beneficial to healing.

Legal regulations

Today, the pharmacy, both as an institution and as a company, is more than ever subject to numerous statutory regulations such as the Medicines Act , the Pharmacy Works Regulations and the Social Code (Germany) . This forces them into a tight corset that leaves little flexibility for modern corporate management in terms of price, communication and product policy . Main focus of the pharmacies should follow the self-image of pharmacists to be the independent counsel patients respectively customers. However, the pressure to increase sales, politically induced by ongoing legislative changes, and the desire to do the best for the customer often come into conflict with one another. Many pharmacists see the call for free competition among pharmacies with a legitimate cheaper drug price, on the one hand with the risk of poor advice and harmful excess consumption of drugs for the patients, on the other hand with economic risks that threaten the existence of the company.

Internationally known symbol ℞ for "prescription" or prescription drugs

In order to avoid conflicts of interest, the previously relative pricing for prescription drugs was changed to a surcharge of 3 percent plus a fixed surcharge per pack on January 1, 2004. On the other hand, the legislature made with the aim of intensifying competition, the shipping ban and price fixing for non-prescription, pharmacy-only medicines (so-called OTC medicines ) fall and loosened the so-called multiple ownership. Since then, pharmacists have been allowed to own up to three branch pharmacies and, if the requirements are met, also to send medicines. In addition, numerous mail-order and internet pharmacies were set up in Germany and in neighboring countries, for example in the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Czech Republic .

Anyone wishing to operate a pharmacy requires the approval of the competent authority ( personnel license ).

To protect the health of the population, only a licensed pharmacist is allowed to own a pharmacy (ban on third-party ownership). Corporations, on the other hand, are not allowed to operate pharmacies. In recent years it has often been suspected that the German ban on third-party ownership and multiple ownership is inadmissible under European law. On May 19, 2009, however , the European Court of Justice ruled that the restrictions on freedom of establishment associated with the ban on third-party ownership were not disproportionate and were in line with European law. This means that third-party ownership remains prohibited in Germany. The judges followed the argument that the federal states could enact appropriate regulations if they consider this to be necessary for the protection of health.

Compulsory pharmacy

Medicines that require advice and can therefore only be sold in pharmacies are subject to pharmacy obligations . This is intended to ensure drug safety . A prescription is not required as long as the drug is not available on prescription .

The simple pharmacy obligation is regulated according to § 43 Medicinal Products Act . Pharmacy-only pharmaceuticals are, in simple terms, pharmaceuticals that can only be dispensed by pharmaceutical personnel. The pharmaceutical staff is obliged to provide advice (unless the customer expressly refuses advice). Corresponding open questions should therefore be asked when submitting in order to clarify the need for advice. Internet mail order pharmacies are obliged to provide this advice in another appropriate form, e.g. B. to be carried out by email or telephone. This form of advice may only be carried out by pharmaceutical staff. The disadvantage of advice at the mail-order pharmacy is that advice usually only starts after the customer has specifically requested it. Often, however, a customer does not initially realize that there is a need for advice, for example when he requests a remedy that does not match his complaints. For the same reason, there is a self-service ban for pharmacy-only drugs.

Prescribed inventory

Bautzen on the main market

According to § 5 of the pharmacy operating regulations, specialist literature must be available in the pharmacy:

  • Scientific aids that are necessary for the production and testing of drugs and raw materials in accordance with recognized pharmaceutical rules within the framework of pharmacy operations. The ordinance does not finally name the pharmacopoeia (in Germany consisting of the European Pharmacopoeia, the German Pharmacopoeia and the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia), the German Pharmacopoeia and the synonym directory for the Pharmacopoeia, which lists common names for medicinal products and starting materials,
  • Scientific aids that are necessary to inform and advise the customer about drugs, in particular information material about the composition, areas of application, contraindications, side effects, interactions with other agents, dosage instructions and the manufacturers of the common finished drugs as well as about the common dosages of drugs (e.g. . Red List , Commentary on the Pharmacopoeia),
  • scientific aids that are required for information and advice on medicinal products for persons authorized to practice medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine,
  • Texts of the applicable regulations of pharmacy, drug, narcotics, drug advertising and chemicals law.

Furthermore, the pharmacy operating regulations regulate which devices must be in stock.

Branch pharmacies

Since January 1, 2004, pharmacy owners in Germany have been able to operate up to three other public pharmacies, so-called branch pharmacies, in addition to their (then) main pharmacy ( limited multiple ownership in accordance with Section 1 (1), Section 2 (4) and (5 ) of the Pharmacy Act ). The following conditions must be met for this:

  • Only a licensed pharmacist with a (main) pharmacy, in which he is responsible, can open or own branch pharmacies.
  • A branch pharmacy must be in the same or at least in a neighboring district (or the urban district ).
  • A branch pharmacy must be equipped in the same way as a full pharmacy in terms of both material and personnel.
  • A licensed pharmacist must be named as the responsible pharmacy manager for each branch.
  • The holder of a license to operate a branch pharmacy (“license holder”) may not be represented by an assistant pharmacist or pharmaceutical engineer, but only by another licensed pharmacist. The representation of the pharmacy manager of the branch pharmacy (s) by pharmacist assistants or pharmaceutical engineers is permitted, as is the case with any other public pharmacy (see pharmacy management ).

Pharmacy cooperations

So-called pharmacy cooperations are to be distinguished from branch pharmacies . Such a cooperation essentially pursues the goal of initiating joint advertising campaigns and achieving purchasing advantages - i.e. cost savings. The participating pharmacies remain legally independent and the law on the legal form of pharmacies unaffected: The pharmacist is also an independent contractor with an up to a maximum of four business entities .

In addition, there were efforts to expand the competence as a cooperation to partnerships with statutory health insurance companies . Examples of cooperations with a total of around 7,000 members are the Marketing Association of German Pharmacists ( MVDA ; with around 3,600 members alone), vivesco , my pharmacy , parmapharm and a few others.

Further concepts with regard to possible franchising are currently being critically discussed and questioned in specialist circles, as they could question the pharmacist as an independent entrepreneur with his current health policy mandate.

Pharmacy chains

Pharmacy chains are still prohibited in Germany, with the exception of "mini chains" consisting of up to four pharmacies owned by the same pharmacist (see branch pharmacy). However, some pharmacy cooperations appear in public as if they were pharmacy chains, e.g. B. DocMorris ; however, these pharmacies are legally independent individual businesses; they only use the DocMorris logo against payment of a license fee. Originally the DocMorris parent company, the pharmaceutical wholesaler Celesio, wanted to set up a pharmacy chain in Germany; he had hoped that the German ban on third-party ownership (property of a pharmacy by a non-pharmacist or corporation) would be overturned by the European Court of Justice (ECJ); a first branch was opened in Saarbrücken in 2006 (which was illegal, but was approved by the Saarland government on the grounds that the German ban on third-party ownership would be overturned by the ECJ anyway). On May 19, 2009, however, the ECJ confirmed that the German ban on third-party ownership is entirely compatible with European law; Pharmacy chains are therefore still banned. Pharmacist organizations such as ABDA and VDPP welcomed the verdict as a victory for consumer protection.

Mail order pharmacies

For fundamental reasons, the mail order business of pharmaceuticals in Germany was prohibited until 2003. The ban was only included in the Pharmacies Act at the end of the 1990s. A constitutional complaint by two German pharmacists regarding the dispatch of vaccines led to the clearance of mail order for pharmacies from January 1, 2004. Narcotics and drugs that are approved for use on animals used for the production of food are subject to this regulation under the Medicines Act except. At the same time, there was no fixed price for non-prescription drugs. Shortly thereafter , the European Court of Justice ruled that it was legal to restrict mail-order sales at least to prescription drugs in an EU member state, but this did not affect the general lifting of the mail-order trade ban for drugs in Germany.

The mail-order business with drugs is allowed in Germany pharmacies. In addition, a permit for admission to mail order business must be obtained from the competent authority . This is usually granted if the mail order business does not suggest any restrictions on pharmacy operations with regard to the pharmacy's premises. The institutions participating in the sale of medicinal products pharmacy is subject to all legal regulations in Germany restrictions on social legislation , Pharmacy Law and Heilmittelwerbegesetz . On the other hand , pharmacies in other European countries are not subject to the social laws applicable in Germany ( SGB ​​V ). Compliance with advertising restrictions cannot be fully sued for in other European countries.

"International Pharmacy"

The term “international pharmacy” is not defined. In the judgment of a higher administrative court it is said that the spectrum of possible expectations of an average consumer from an international pharmacy ranges from the assumption that foreign medicines can be obtained at lower prices and particularly short delivery times to the notion that the pharmacy goes beyond the regional market area of ​​a pharmacy, also operates outside of the Federal Republic of Germany and operates branches abroad, up to the expectation of special advisory skills with regard to foreign drugs and broad language skills of the pharmacy staff.

In 2008 the Federal Administrative Court ruled that the designation “International Pharmacy” as part of the company name of a pharmacy did not mislead the consumer. The expectations of the average consumer generally agree with the legal situation, which prohibits the keeping of foreign drugs that are not approved in Germany. The OVG had taken a different view and argued that the name "International Pharmacy" suggests that such a pharmacy is better equipped than others to supply foreign drugs and is therefore anti-competitive. A pharmacy in which many different languages ​​were spoken, many print and electronic media with information about foreign pharmaceuticals were available and relationships with an importing company ensured that foreign pharmaceuticals could be obtained particularly quickly had sued this.

Pharmacy staff

Pharmaceutical personnel include pharmacists, pharmacist assistants , pharmaceutical engineers and pharmaceutical technical assistants (PTA) and people who are in training to become pharmacists or PTAs. The latter sell under the supervision of the pharmacist. The non-pharmaceutical staff includes the pharmaceutical commercial clerks (PKA) (formerly pharmacy assistants ) and messengers who deliver pharmaceuticals. Corresponding regulations apply to qualifications from the GDR. Here are pharmacy technicians pharmacy assistants and pharmacy assistants treated as pharmaceutical-technical assistants. In 2008, around 144,000 people worked in around 21,500 German pharmacies.

The pharmacy in Austria

Public pharmacy and medical house pharmacy

View of the historic (1792) hospital pharmacy of the Elisabethinen monastery in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee

The pharmacy sector in Austria is regulated by the Pharmacy Act. Two types of pharmacy co-exist.

One type is the public pharmacy run by a pharmacist. At the beginning of 2010 there were 1,255 pharmacies nationwide. The distance from pharmacy locations is provided by law at least 4 kilometers in order to ensure survivability and thus the supply of medicines to the population.

As a second type, there are also so-called medical house pharmacies. These are pharmacies that are run by a general practitioner (general practitioner). They are supposed to guarantee a minimum supply of medicines even in remote areas. Such pharmacies only get a license if there is no public pharmacy in the community in which the doctor runs the practice and the nearest public pharmacy is more than four kilometers away by road. In a medicine cabinet, only ready-to-dispense drugs are available with often a small supply of drugs. The family doctors are only allowed to dispense medication to their patients. About ten percent of all cash register prescriptions are redeemed through practice pharmacies.

Identification of pharmacies

Identification of pharmacies in Austria

Unlike in Germany, there was no uniform labeling of pharmacies in Austria before the Anschluss in 1938. There were considerations to create a sign for the pharmacy stand. In this context, the snake used today with the shell can be found occasionally, like on a tombstone of a pharmacist. Even when the pharmacist badge was introduced in 1937 , it had nothing to do with labeling the pharmacies themselves.

After the annexation to the German Reich, the valid symbol of the A in broken sans serif was introduced in autumn 1938.

After the end of the war, the Fraktur-A used by Austrian pharmacies was unacceptable for political reasons. But there was neither a new logo nor an old one that could be reused. But it was not until the spring of 1950 that the then pharmacists 'association, today's pharmacists' association, started advertising for pharmacies and thus also for a uniform logo. The Österreichische Apothekerzeitung subsequently announced a competition among all Austrian pharmacists. A jury selected the A, which is still valid today, from 261 designs , which consists of the licking snake and the bowl standing on a column. From 1951 this symbol was largely used throughout Austria.

In 1995 the topic was raised again after the green cross was used in many European countries to ask whether Austria should join it. But after the recognition value of the previous symbol was so great in the population, it was decided to use the green cross as an additional logo in tourist areas or in places such as airports or international train stations, but to continue the previous one. A market survey carried out in 2008 showed a recognition value of over 90% for this symbol .

The valid logo is a protected symbol that pharmacies in Austria may use, but is not mandatory.

Storage regulations and labels

The following storage regulations apply to Austria:

  • Indifferenda are slightly active substances. The vessel in which an indifference is stored must be labeled with black letters on a white background.
  • Separanda are powerful substances. The vessel in which a separandum is stored must be labeled in red on a white background. Separanda must be stored separately from other substances . They are often summarized in a separate alphabet. Excess stock of Separanda and recipe aids that contain Separanda must also be stored separately from other substances. In the Austrian Pharmacopoeia (ÖAB) these substances are marked with the word Separandum , in the Austrian Medicinal Taxes with a cross “ + ”.
  • Venena are very powerful substances. The vessel in which a vein is stored must be labeled with white letters on a black background. They must also be kept in a permanently locked cabinet ( poison cabinet ). The key to this must not be there all the time. In the pharmacopoeia, the corresponding substances are marked with the word Venenum , in the Austrian medicine tax with 2 crosses " ++ ".

With Separanda and Venena, the single maximum dose (EMD - how much of the active ingredient a person can use at the same time - for example: swallow, ... - is allowed to use) and the maximum daily dose (TMD - how much a person can use at most over the day) had to be added may) be stated on the vessel. The pharmacist still has to check every prescription for this.

Substances to be protected from light must be stored and dispensed in an opaque vessel (plastic vessel, paper sack, etc.) or in dark brown glass that meets the requirements of the pharmacopoeia. Standing vessels made of blue and green glass must not be used for this as they do not absorb the prescribed wavelength of light. In the pharmacopoeia there is the note "to be stored protected from light", in the drug tax the corresponding substance is marked with an "L". The light protection provisions not only affect the pure substance to be protected, but also all magistral preparations in which they are processed.

Pharmacy jars from the 19th century from the Löwen pharmacy in Remscheid-Lüttringhausen

If a glass vessel is used for storage, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Thickness at least 2 mm
  • Light with a wavelength of 410  nanometers must be absorbed at least 98%
  • Light with a wavelength of 700 nm must be transmitted at least 72%

These drug groups need light protection:

  • Essential oils
  • Aromatic waters
  • Collyria (eye drops)
  • Emulsions
  • Fats, oils
  • Herbal drugs
  • All fluid and dry extracts
  • Tinctures (sometimes only to be protected from direct sunlight)

These preparations should be protected from excessive exposure to light, heat, radiation, etc. In principle, every drug should be largely protected from direct sunlight. Well-closing vessels should protect the contents from contamination such as dirt or foreign matter. Tightly closing vessels also protect against influences from the air (carbon dioxide, oxygen, water vapor, etc.), which would otherwise cause chemical changes. In addition, the aim is to prevent volatile active substances from escaping in impermissible quantities (for example in the case of essential oils). In the case of volatile substances, however, you have to make sure that the vessel is not too big, otherwise too much air is trapped in it.

Well-closing vessels are:

  • Screw connections made of Bakelite or other suitable plastics
  • Sheet metal inserts with lids
  • Containers with well-closing lids made of porcelain, wood, faience or suitable plastics
  • Tin cans or cardboard cans with well-closing lids

The following apply as tightly closing:

  • Vessels with screw cap with seal
  • Glass vessels with ground-in stoppers
  • Vessels closed with rubber or adapted plastic stoppers

Prescribed inventory

The prescribed inventory is similar to that in Germany. A pharmacy in Austria must also have telephone, fax and internet access. In addition, a network-independent radio must be available.

Mail order pharmacies in Austria

Austrian pharmacies are not allowed to send medicines. However, foreign pharmacies are allowed to send pharmaceuticals to Austrian consumers, provided mail-order business is permitted in the country of origin. However, this only applies if the pharmaceuticals sent are approved in Austria, if they are non-prescription medicines in Austria and the medicines are only required for personal use. Mail order pharmacies from the Czech Republic and Germany have been delivering to Austria for several years. The Austrian Pharmacists' Association has been operating the online platform since April 2014 , on which the customer can reserve drugs and assortments from the pharmacy online and collect them from the desired local pharmacy (more than half of the Austrian pharmacies are connected) (so-called " click & Collect “principle).

The pharmacy in Switzerland

The standard logo for pharmacies in Switzerland
Swiss pharmacy logo.svg
The Pharmasuisse pharmacy logo

In Switzerland, the pharmacy sector is kantonal regulated. The pharmacists' associations of the individual cantons are organized in the Swiss Pharmacists Association Pharmasuisse . 78 percent of all pharmacies belong to this association.

The so-called dispensing category regulates which drugs Swiss pharmacies are allowed to dispense .

Until 2007, pharmacies were only marked with a symbol representing a green cross with scales and an Aesculapian snake, but since 2007 members of Pharmasuisse have been able to use a symbol that is a registered trademark instead . The new symbol is a green cross with a stylized Aesculapian snake.

Pharmacies in other countries

Pharmacy built in 1909 in Swakopmund , Namibia (2014)


The largest pharmacy chain in Lithuania is Eurovaistinė (turnover of 172.7 million euros, 255 pharmacies), a subsidiary of Euroapotheca (it belongs to the largest Lithuanian group Vilniaus prekyba ). Other chains are Nemuno vaistinė (turnover of 107 million euros, 300 “Camelia” pharmacies), Gintarinė vaistinė (turnover of 71.54 million euros, 225 pharmacies), Norfos vaistinė (91 “N” pharmacies).

United States

Pharmacy symbol in the USA : mortar and pestle with the sign ℞ for prescription
One of the largest drugstore chains is Walgreens

In the United States pharmacies exist (Pharmacies) either as independent companies or departments of supermarkets or drugstores . Since drugs that do not require a prescription (so-called over-the-counter drugs ) can also be traded in supermarkets , petrol stations , etc., American pharmacies mainly deal in prescription drugs. Mail order pharmacies are also widespread and are sponsored by many health insurance companies. A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse of Columbia University showed that 85 percent of US mail order company selling prescription drugs such as Valium or Ritalin without a prescription. Independent pharmacies specializing in traditional Chinese medicine are widespread, especially in Chinatowns .

Orange medicine jar

One of the peculiarities of the American pharmacy industry is the fact that wholesalers hardly ever deliver drugs in their final packaging. The pharmacist counts tablets , capsules and similar loose drugs from the wholesale packaging and - according to the prescription - packed and labeled in orange plastic jars. If drugs - such as B. Antibiotics for children - supplied in powder form, but must be dissolved in water before ingestion, this is also done in the pharmacy. The individual manufacture of drugs, such as B. ointments, is rarely used in pharmacies. For these reasons, a visit to the pharmacy always includes a waiting time of around half an hour for the patient. Many drug stores offer their customers, for example, B. want to go shopping, therefore a drive-thru service; Prescription delivery and collection of the finished medication take place here at a counter where the patient can drive up without getting out of the car.

In addition to the conventional issuing of prescriptions by the attending physician, it is also common in the USA for physicians, laboratories and pharmacies to communicate directly with one another. If the doctor orders a laboratory test to establish a diagnosis, the laboratory can give the pharmacy direct instructions and the patient does not have to go to the doctor again. Advice on non-prescription drugs is usually not given in the large pharmacy chains. Recently, some drugstores have been successfully attempting to close this advice gap by offering advice from medical support staff - mostly nurses - for a fee.

Pharmacy symbols in different countries

In some countries, different variations of the usual symbol are common, depending on government regulations. In Spain, the green cross is often used in a single color or with additional decorations . In other countries such regulations are completely absent. In the Netherlands there is only one standardized road sign. The similar symbol of the Royal Netherlands Pharmacy Association (KNMP) differs in some details, is dark blue and is used by many member pharmacies. In other countries, too, certain symbols have established themselves in different variations, which are used particularly frequently. In Poland, for example, different variations of the Aesculapian snake with a stick or a drinking bowl are used (with a drinking bowl usually on a green cross, with a Aesculapian stick sometimes on a blue Star of Life ), and a white cross on a red or green point with or is often used without symbols, a red cross without a background, a heart as a general health symbol, etc.


  • Willem Frans Daems: The terms “apoteca” and “apotecarius” in the Middle Ages. In: Publications of the International Society for the History of Pharmacy. New Series, Volume 8, 1956, pp. 39-52.
  • Werner Dressendörfer: Late medieval medicine taxes of the Munich city doctor Sigmund Gotzkircher from the Grazer Codex 311. A contribution to the early history of the southern German pharmacy. (Mathematical and natural science dissertation LMU Munich) Wellm, Pattensen near Hanover, now with Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, 1978 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 15).
  • Christoph Friedrich : Pharmacists remember. Autobiographies from three centuries. Govi-Verlag, 2007, ISBN 978-3-7741-1072-4 .
  • Tammo Funke: The pharmacy system in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1945 to 1961 using the example of Lower Saxony and Bremen. Deutscher Apotheker Verlag, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-8047-3153-0 .
  • Werner Gaude: The old pharmacy. A thousand years of cultural history. Stuttgart 1979; 2nd edition 1986.
  • Dominique Jordan, Didier Ray: Pharmacies and drug stores. In: Healthcare Switzerland 2007–2009. Verlag Hans Huber, Bern 2007, ISBN 978-3-456-84422-0 .
  • Timo Kieser: Pharmacy Law - Introduction and Basics. Deutscher Apotheker Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-7692-4040-5 .
  • August Mau : Apotheca . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II, 1, Stuttgart 1895, column 184.
  • Andreas Molitor: Unhealthy circumstances. In: brand eins 4–2006, pp. 118–124. ISSN  1438-9339 .
  • Thomas Richter: Pharmacy. In: Werner E. Gerabek u. a. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of medical history. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 80-86.
  • Rudolf Schmitz: About German pharmacies of the 13th century. A contribution to the etymology of the term apotheca-apothecarius. In: Sudhoffs Archiv 45, 1961, pp. 289-302.
  • Rudolf Schmitz: History of Pharmacy. Among employees by Franz-Josef Kuhlen. Volume I: From the beginning to the end of the Middle Ages. Govi-Verlag, Eschborn / Ts. 1998 - ISBN 3-7741-0706-8 .
  • Rudolf Schmitz: History of Pharmacy. Continued by Christoph Friedrich and Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke. Volume II: From the early modern era to the present. Govi-Verlag, Eschborn / Ts. 2005, ISBN 978-3-7741-1027-4 .

Web links

Commons : Pharmacies  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Apotheke  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Topic page Pharmacy  - Sources and full texts



Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Martin: The 'Ulmer Wundarznei'. Introduction - Text - Glossary on a monument to German specialist prose from the 15th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1991 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 52), ISBN 3-88479-801-4 (also medical dissertation Würzburg 1990), p. 113 ( apotēke , “appotegk” […]).
  2. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th edition. ed. by Walther Mitzka , De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 28.
  3. ^ Franz Dornseiff : The Greek words in German. De Gruyter, Berlin 1950, pp. 60 and 113.
  4. Cf. August Mau: Art. Apotheca. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classical antiquity . Volume II, 1 (1895), Col. 184.
  5. ^ Conrad Brunner : About medicine and nursing in the Middle Ages in Swiss countries. Orell Füssli, Zurich 1922 (= publications of the Swiss Society for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences, 1), pp. 34 and 80 f. ( Text archive - Internet Archive ).
  6. ^ Peter Kolb: The hospital and health system. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes, Volume I-III / 2 (I: From the beginnings to the outbreak of the Peasant War. 2001, ISBN 3-8062-1465-4 ; II: From the Peasant War 1525 to the transition to the Kingdom of Bavaria 1814. 2004, ISBN 3 -8062-1477-8 ; III / 1–2: From the transition to Bavaria to the 21st century. 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-1478-9 ), Theiss, Stuttgart 2001–2007, Volume 1, 2001, p 386-409 and 647-653, here: p. 407 f. ( Pharmacist ).
  7. ^ Law on the Public Health Service North Rhine-Westphalia, here Section 20, drug monitoring and social pharmacy.
  8. Federal Office of Public Health FOPH: Medicines. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 4, 2018 ; accessed on July 4, 2018 .
  9. ^ Landesapothekerverband Baden-Württemberg ( Memento from December 14, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  10. Christina Becela-Deller: Ruta graveolens L. A medicinal plant in terms of art and cultural history. (Mathematical and natural scientific dissertation Würzburg 1994) Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1998 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 65). ISBN 3-8260-1667-X , p. 120.
  11. Wolfgang-Hagen Hein , Kurt Sappert: The medical order of Friedrich II. A study of the history of pharmaceuticals. Eutin 1957 (= publications of the International Society for the History of Pharmacy. New series, 12).
  12. Gundolf Keil : Medizinalordnung Friedrichs II. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil, Wolfgang Wegner (ed.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 950.
  13. ^ Website of the Löwenapotheke in Trier .
  14. ^ Gundolf Keil: Review by Elena Roussanova: German influences on the development of pharmacy in the Russian Empire. A handbook (= Relationes, series of publications from the project “Scientific relations in the 19th century between Germany and Russia in the fields of chemistry, pharmacy and medicine” at the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig. Volume 19). Shaker, Aachen 2016, ISBN 978-3-8440-4419-5 . In: Medical historical messages. Volume 35, 2016 (2018), pp. 295–299, here: p. 297.
  15. ^ Robert Jütte : History of Alternative Medicine. From folk medicine to today's unconventional therapies. CH Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-406-40495-2 , pp. 211-214 and 226.
  16. Die Apotheke - Figures, data, facts 2019: Development of the number of pharmacies (PDF) on, accessed on September 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Fritz Rupprecht Mathieu - retrospective. June 9, 2010, accessed on June 11, 2010 (website maintained by relatives of the graphic artist who died in 2010).
  18.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Broadcast on January 22, 2006.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  19. How the crocodile got into the pharmacy. In: Retrieved March 26, 2016 .
  20. a b ECJ judgment: Pharmacies win against DocMorris, May 19, 2009
  22. ^ Opinion of the VDPP on the ECJ pharmacy ruling in the Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung, May 28, 2009
  23. ^ Decision of the Federal Constitutional Court of February 11, 2003
  24. ^ Pharmaceutical mail order AOK Federal Association
  25. ^ OVG Nordrhein-Westfalen · Decision of December 11, 2006 · Az. 13 A 2771/03
  26. BVerwG 3 C 1.07 - Judgment of January 17, 2008 at the Federal Administrative Court (
  27. Medical house pharmacies: Scare tactics completely unfounded Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists accessed on March 23, 2010.
  28. Section 29 of the Pharmacy Act: Authorization to keep a medical house pharmacy., as of August 1, 2015.
  29. Cf. Otto Nowotny: The tedious way to the symbol of pharmacy. The victory of the snake (PDF) In: Österreichische Apotheker-Zeitung. Volume 55, No. 12, June 11, 2001, pp. 583-586 (with 17 drafts from 1928), accessed September 21, 2019.
  30. The victory of the snake (PDF; 3.1 MB), Austrian pharmacist newspaper No. 12/56. Born on June 11, 2001.
  31. Pharmacy is an unbeatable brand: high level of awareness and enormous brand value from November 7, 2008, accessed on April 9, 2009.
  32. Ordinance of the Federal Minister for Health and Women on the operation of pharmacies and medical and veterinary house pharmacies (Apothekenbetriebsordnung 2005 - ABO 2005).
  33. Online dispatch of medicines to Austria permitted - .
  34. Membership information on the Pharmasuisse website, as of December 2013, accessed on November 12, 2015.
  35. Illuminated cross and glass plaque .
  36. heise-online: Valium without a prescription from July 19, 2008.