How Pharmacy Started In the Philippines

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History and Evolution Pharmacy In the Philippines

History and Evolution Pharmacy In the Philippines

Pharmacy is one of the ancient sciences that involves the study of plants or chemicals and dispensing of medicines. It is also now one of the most desired college courses across the globe. In the Philippines, for instance, there are about 30 college schools or universities that offer degree in Pharmacy.

Even before the arrival of Spaniards in the country, Filipino folk medicine dates back to the existence of "faith healers" or "herbolarios". They are sought after because of the people's beliefs that they have acquired the gift of healing. This is incorporated with prayers, chants and with the use of medicinal plants that are concocted and applied to the affected areas. This prevailed for more than three decades until the Spanish friars introduced botanical pharmacy.

In fact, several Spanish missionaries categorized hundreds of Philippine plants with medicinal properties hence the publication of the Manual de Medicinas Caseras. This was written by Father Fernando de Santa Maria and was first published in 1763. Due to popularity, the book was reprinted on several editions in 1885.

This also led to the opening of many medical and pharmaceutical schools in the country. The study of pharmacy requires a preparatory course requiring knowledge in natural history and general chemistry and 5 years of studies in pharmaceutical operations to earn the degree of Bachiller en Farmacia.

Which University / Institute started pharmacy course in the Philippine ?

The University of Santo Tomas, run by the Dominicans and one of the oldest and largest Catholic universities in the Philippines, established the first pharmaceutical institution in the country. The University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Pharmacy was founded in May 1871. The Pharmacy curriculum was designed for 6 years during the Spanish regime but was reduced to 5 years during the American administration took over in 1901. This was further revised to 3 years in 1916, until finally, in 1984, the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy settled into a 4-year-course.

Which is the first pharmacy / drug store in the Philippine ?

Among the evolution and development of Pharmacy in the country marks the establishment of the first drugstore in the Philippines. Botica Boie was the first and largest drugstore in the Philippines during the 19th century. It was founded by Dr. Lorenzo Negrao in Manila in 1830.

Do you know who is the Father of Philippine Pharmacy ?

Also noted in the Philippine Pharmacy history is Leon Maria Guererro y Leogardo. Leon Maria Guererro y Leogardo is the first licensed pharmacist in the country. He graduated in 1875 from Ateneo Municipal de Manila. Because of his extensive contribution on the uses of medicinal plants in the Philippines, Dr. Leon Ma. Guerrero is named the Father of Philippine Pharmacy.

To strengthen and empower Pharmacy in the Philippines, the Republic Act 5921 or Pharmacy Law has been imposed. This is described as the" Act regulating the practice of pharmacy and settings standards of pharmaceutical education in the Philippines and of other purposes."

There are also several government agencies that are monitoring pharmacists, pharmaceutical industries and pharmaceutical institutions in the country to preserve the fundamentals of Pharmacy. Relatively, there are also known groups and associations widespread that conduct trainings, seminars or conferences to boost the expansion and progress of Pharmacy in the country thus presenting competent and proficient Filipino pharmacists in and out of the country.

Suggested Reading :


First Filipino Doctors of Pharmacy by Luciano P.R. Santiago

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