Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY.

75

Edinburgh. Apprentices must answer in Latin, English, and arithmetic, and pay a fee of £2 2s. There are 536 apprentices now on the roll. The next examination confers the privileges of an assistant, the fee being £3 3s., and both apprentices and assistants pay an annual fee of 10s. 6d., for which they receive the journal and may attend the lectures for half fees. There are 393 assistants at present enrolled. On passing the "major examination,” they become members of the society, but are required to subscribe one guinea yearly, which, along with voluntary contributions, supports & large benevolent fund. The fee for the examination is £5 5s. By the Act the examinations are not to include medicine, surgery, or midwifery, and no medical practitioner can be registered as pharmaceutical chemist. There are 417 members in London, 1,551 in the provinces and Scotland, and 42 abroad—2,010 altogether; or, with assistants and apprentices, 2,939 persons engaged in pharmacy, who have been examined and found qualified in the knowledge of the art.

There are several prizes and endowments, and the examination papers are most admirably drawn up. As an example, that in chemistry and pharmacy, given last July by Professor Redwood, may be quoted :

6 1. What is the weight of a fluid ounce of pure ether ? Describe minutely the way in which you would determine the specific gravity of this fluid, pointing out sources of error that might affect the result if the temperature of the atmosphere be much above that at which the determination is to be made. 2. What is the meaning of tho expression mechanical equivalent of heat ?' 3. Wbat are the latent heats of water and of steam, the latter being under the ordinary pressure of the atmosphere ? 4. What are the best excipients for giving a pilular consistence to each of the following medicines-namely, calomel, camphor, creasote, copaiba, oil of peppermint, mercurial ointment ? 5. De

76

PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY.

scribe the Pharmacopoeia process for the preparation of acidum nitro-hydrochloricum dilutum ; explain the reactions which occur, and point out the difference between the present process and that given in the Pharmacopæia of 1864. 6. Give the symbolic formulæ for acidum citricum, acidum tartaricum, alumen, ammoniæ carbonas, antimonium tartaratum, chloroformum, hydrargyri perchloridum, and hydrargyri subchloridum; representing them according to the two systems of notation adopted in the Pharmacopoeia. 7. Describe the principal manufacturing process in the production of carbonate of soda, and the Pharmacopæia process for bicarbonate of soda. 8. How is glycerine obtained ? What is its composition, and in what way is it related to alcohol ?"

The society owes much to its first president, William Allen, F.R.S., the worthy colleague of Sir Humphrey Davy. Altogether the regulations of this society seem admirably devised to supply the public with intelligent and accurate dispensers, and they are gradually succeeding to the place of the apothecaries. The membership of the society is necessary for admission as dispenser into the army service. Among their privileges may be mentioned exemption from serving on any jury, as is the case with medical men likewise.

A committee of the American Medical Association lately considered the polity of establishing a school and licensing body for pharmaceutical chemists in every one of the States, for without legislative distinctions the employments of the practitioner and the pharmacien cannot be regulated. In Philadelphia the apothecaries have been proved to advertise prescriptions of physicians sent to them, and to prescribe themselves; while they degrade even the medicine trade by the sale of stationery, confectionery, and intoxicating liquors.

The Irish Apothecaries' Company, established by 31 George III., cap. 34, is, besides a licensing body, a

IRISH APOTHECARIES' HALL.

77

company trading in drugs, the directors being shareholders and examiners of future customers in pharmacy, medicine, surgery, anatomy, &c. Although they examine in these subjects none have ever held the position of teacher in them. From the very preamble of the Act it appears that a distinction was intended to be made between the seller of drugs and the prescriber. It states that many frauds“ have been imposed and practised on many of his Majesty's subjects, to the injury of the fair trader, the disappointment of the physician, the imminent hazard of the lives of his Majesty's faithful and loyal subjects throughout the realm.” The first meetings of the company were held in the buildings of the College of Surgeons, then in Mercer-street. After some litigation and much debate in the Medical Council the licence was decided, by 13 to 8, to be a medical qualification, to be registered under the Act of 1858, the right of compounding prescriptions being still monopolized. The registry of the apothecaries' licence as a qualification in medicine was discussed in the Medical Council for years, at first rejected, but by perseverance carried, the distinguished representative for two Scotch universities being its never-failing advocate. The apprenticeship formerly for seven years has been almost abolished, as any one producing a certificate of having been engaged for three years in practical pharmacy is eligible. This is a positive improvement, as in a year or two compounding may be learned, and other branches of medicine cannot be studied behind a counter. The number of apothecaries is rapidly diminishing in Dublin-in 1848 there were 120, now not half that number, and nearly all the compounding is done by a few large establishments. Apprenticeship for years to an apothecary was a few years ago the mode of studying the medical profession most popular. This fallacy may be judged of by the following example. A widow lady being able, with extreme self-denial, to save a sum sufficient for

78

ACCIDENTAL POISONING. educating her son as a medical man, was arged by a mutual acquaintance and self-styled disinterested friend to give it all to an apothecary in a town of some 9,000 inhabitants. The lad was to do the shop trade for seven years without salary. As he was not quite fifteen he could not pass the necessary examination. He meanwhile met with an honest adviser, and three years before his drug-selling unpaid slavery would have expired, he was earning £300 a-year as an anatomical teacher in Dublin.

In Dublin, medicines are freely sold by druggists, the dose being usually printed on the label ; but in small towns, shopkeepers wholly ignorant of the nature of drugs, and who frequently cannot read, retail laudanum, tinctures of rhubarb, or senna, or black draughts, and may just as readily supply any one as the others. Many sad instances of this are related by Professor A. S. Taylor in his report to the Privy Council in 1863. The Rev. Dr. Alexander, a few years ago, was poisoned by arsenic supplied by a shopkeeper in Ferbane instead of arrowroot. In another of this man's drawers were found, loosely papered, rice, corrosive sublimate, jalap, and oxalic acid ; all were under the care of an ignorant boy. In another instance, twelve pounds of arsenic was sold by a druggist in mistake for plaster-of-Paris to a cheap confectioner, who having next day retailed it in the form of lozenges, about 200 persons in the town of Bradford were poisoned. For criminal purposes strychnia and other fearful poisons can, owing to a want of legal restrictions, be obtained by any person who alleges as their purpose the destruction of vermin. About 550 deaths occur annually in England by poison.

The remedial measures clearly are, that none but skilled pharmaciens shall retail those dangerous agents, and then only to known persons and for purposes ascertained. The keeping apart of poisonous drugs and their distinction by peculiarly shaped bottles, or with labels edged with sand paper so that they could be recognised

PROFIT BY MEDICINES.

79

in the dark is important. The sale of patent medicines has done so much harm that the government before affixing its stamp should insist that their composition should be made known to the sellers and the buyers if they required. In the case of other patents the plans are testi. fied to.

From what has been stated in this and preceding sections, it will appear that there should be two grades in the profession, viz., the physician and surgeon who does not supply medicines to his patients, and the general practitioner who does. The profits of pharmacy should be entirely enjoyed by the dispenser, who should compound the prescriptions of the first grade, and have the sole power of retailing drugs or at least those that are poisonous. The dispensers or pharmaciens, while protected most rigorously in their own legitimate function, should be most strictly prohibited from abrogating the duties of the other classes, for which they could not be by education or otherwise at all qualified. The circumstances of the profession in Ireland, it has been shown, are not precisely similar to those in England, as besides the physician and surgeon (between whom less distinction is made than in England) there are the apothecaries, who besides practising physic, surgery, and midwifery, supply medicines to their own patients, compound the prescriptions, and act under the direction of the physcician and surgeon, and in addition sell medicines and medical appliances to all comers. Any calm and unprejudiced person would declare that no individual should pursue the heterogeneous duties which the Irish apothecary exercises for the following reasons—1st. The sale and compounding of medicines should engross the dispenser's whole time and attention. Now, as the duties of physic, surgery, and midwifery are exercised more out-of-doors than at home, the establishment must be left to assistants and apprentices. Of the dangers of this practice many examples might be

« AnteriorContinuar »