The pharmacy profession had evolved through the years under three distinct eras: the agricultural era (beginning to late 19th century), the industrial era (from late 19th century to early 20th century), informational era (early 20th century to the present).
In the agricultural era, the basis of economy by this time was hunting and gathering. Human beings sought natural cure for their ailments. At that time, the role of finding the cure was fused with preparing and administering the cure. These roles are assumed by one person, the spiritual leader of the community.
The sources of cure are the plants and minerals which were abundant in the environment. With simple implements such as mortar and pestle, and the use of heating instruments, the spiritual leaders were able to provide remedies. From raw fire, the spiritual leader prepared simple solutions, decoctions and poultices to relieve the sufferings of mankind.
As the years went by and towards the end of this era, pure substances were derived from various biological and mineral sources. A drug became a mixture of different medicinal ingredients. At the same time, the dual role of spiritual leader was separated into two distinct roles, that of the physician and the pharmacist. One in charge of diagnosis and the other, assumed the preparation of the medication.
The traditional roles of the pharmacists were that of compounding and dispensing. Compounding refers to the preparation of various medications in the form of solid, liquid, and semi-solid preparations. The pharmacist became the expert in making various kinds of drugs. With the aid of measuring devices like volumetric flask, beakers, stirring rods, several liquid dosage forms may be prepared such as solutions, suspensions, emulsions, spirits and elixirs. Active ingredients may be extracted from plants through the processes of decoction, maceration and cold press, to name a few. Alcohol lamp, water bath, and funnel became handy for the heating of fresh and dried plant parts. The pharmacist, after the preparation of the medicine pour the liquid medicine into the proper container, either a clear or amber-colored bottle and label them properly depending on the intended use, internal or external.
Solid drugs like pills are prepared using tablet triturate mold which provide uniform dosage of the active ingredient/s. Tablet triturates are precursor of the modern-day tablet which is now prepared by sophisticated tablet machine. Another popular solid preparation was the powder. Using mortar and pestle to comminute the powder and mix it with even consistency, the pharmacist would divide the powder according to doses. This he/she did with the help of the pill tile. For capsules, the powder is placed in hard gelatin capsules and were placed in boxes.
External preparations like ointments and suppositories are also prepared by the pharmacist within the confine of the pharmacy. Suppository mold was used to shape the suppository which was administered via the rectal route. The pharmacist was able to combine all the necessary ingredients and heat them until dissolved. Once the right consistency was reached, the pharmacist then poured them into the mold until they solidify. Once solid, the suppositories are properly wrapped using waxed paper and then properly labeled.
The traditional compounding waned with industrialization where mass production of medicines in manufacturing plants took over. While this development had lessened the compounding role, this paved the way for pharmacists to assume various roles in health care: production, quality control, regulatory function, clinical and other patient-oriented role, as well as involvement in public health.
The pocket museum honors the traditional roles of the pharmacist, that of compounding and dispensing.