The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the US and has origins that date back to the dawn of civilization. Learn fun facts you probably didn’t know about pharmacies past and present below.
1. We Don’t Know Where Rx Comes From
Anyone who has been in a pharmacy or is vaguely familiar with them has seen the Rx symbol. The Rx symbol has stood for pharmaceuticals practically since their creation, but we don’t know why!
There are a few theories about where Rx comes from, but they’re just that—theories. However, one prominent theory is that it comes from Latin, specifically, the word “recipe.” Another theory is that it comes from Egypt as a nod to Egyptian healing symbols such as the Eye of Horus.
2. The Industry’s Modern Origins Date to the Civil War
The idea of pharmaceuticals and drugs dates to the very beginning of civilization. However, in the modern history of pharmaceuticals, the evolution of printed tablets and capsules began during the American Civil War.
Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that many of us are familiar with, had humble origins as a supplier of drugs like painkillers for the Union Army during the war. Obviously, the business relationship was a success, and Pfizer eventually grew to become a pharmaceutical giant.
3. Pharmacists Changed the Soft Drink Industry
While pharmacists are known for drugs, perhaps the most profound impact they’ve had is on the soft drink industry. One of the most fun and interesting facts regarding pharmacies you probably didn’t know is that Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper came from pharmacists over a hundred years ago.
Coca-Cola’s origins are famous—John S. Pemberton invented it in 1886 as a treatment for various ailments but ended up selling it to soda fountains, and the rest is history. Dr. Pepper also came from a pharmacist—one year earlier in Waco, Texas, Charles Alderton invented the drink at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store.
4. Most American Adults Have a Prescription
The American pharmaceutical industry is exceptionally large, mostly due to how many Americans use prescription drugs. Data shows that nearly seven out of every 10 American adults between the ages of 40 and 79 have at least one prescription for a drug. In fact, one out of every five adults has five or more prescriptions, so pharmaceutical drugs are as widely used and popular as ever.
5. The FDA Rejects 90 Percent of Drugs
With so many people needing drugs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must ensure these pharmaceuticals are safe for consumption. Every year, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research reviews hundreds of drugs applying to enter the market. However, roughly one out of every 10 make the cut. On average, only 50 drugs meet the strict criteria of the FDA each year and are approved to enter the market. So you can rest assured anything you see on American drug shelves has been thoroughly scrutinized for safety.