History of Pharmaceutical Technology

The origins of the discipline pharmaceutical technology (as for different taxonomy also known as galenics or galenic pharmacy) can be traced back to Ancient times. At present, the division of roles within healthcare is that the physicians have the responsibility for pharmacotherapy and the pharmacists take care of the drug compounding. However, this pattern of the division of responsibilities is similar to the one of the Ancient times.

The ancient Semitic scripts from the period of the first millennium BC had already distinguished the physicians and the ointment makers as separate entities. In those times the latter ones were males as well as females who lived in royal courts of the ancient Israel, later on they also took part in wall constructions in Jerusalem. The biblical book of Ecclesiastes describes the use of plant oils that would degrade in the presence of insects which not only points out to the potential solution of the recipe formulation but also considers stability when preparing medicines. In ancient Greece of the first century AD, there are „eye ointments“ used as a remedy towards enlightenment mentioned as a symbol in St. John’s Book of Revelation. This is probably related to the fact that at the time in Greece the medicines compounding was evolving, and from this “school” came the physician Claudius Galenos , also known as Galen (120–201 AD), whose name over the ages has become a synonym of drug compounding. Galenos spent many years as a physician in the temple of Asclepius in Pergamon, where scientific knowledge was mixed with occultism and witchcraft. Perhaps that is why an originally pejorative Greek term "pharmakoi" (the one who mixes poisons) has been associated with witchcraft and poisons making.

Only with the advent of Christianity and the process of unedifying nature were the medicines deprived of their spiritual essence, where upon drugs were seen as a product of creation, and not as a spiritual substance. Later on, it was rather the opposite for alchemy and astrology which formed an integral part of the ancient and later medieval medicine, as well as of contemporary homeopathy. As such, drugs were open to be organoleptically examined. In Greece, gradually a specialist group of experts so called „rhizotomoi“ began to form, which can be translated as „root cutters“ and provided  physicians with medicine production, whereas all the others were known as ointment makers or „unguentarii“, whereas  flavour excipient makers as „pigmentarii“ and „aromatarii“.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the medicinal preparation was usually associated with monastic pharmacies, which utilized herbal and medicinal raw materials. For this purpose, some monasteries established/cultivated gardens of medicinal plants. During the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution, drug manufacturing became the focus of industry that fundamentally accelerated the development of drug formulation in terms of science.

In Bohemia, Associate Professor Miloš Melichar (1909–1998) was engaged in the development of galenics as an autonomous discipline. He was keen to develop pharmaceutical technology into a rigorous scientific discipline in order to bring to the level of disciplines like biochemistry, microbiology or pharmacology. In international context, R. Hüttenrauch was among the experts who supported the same concept. This is how „galenics“ or pharmaceutical technology was formed and stands as the youngest discipline among the core pharmaceutical sciences.

The first department of galenic pharmacy was formed at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Brno in 1952, under the leadership of Mr. Melichar and continued when in 1960 the Faculty in Brno was closed and transferred to a newly opened Faculty of Pharmacy in Bratislava.

Since 1949, there was a Slovak Institute of Galenic Pharmacy in Slovakia, which educated the pharmacists even before the foundation of Faculty of Pharmacy in Bratislava. The head of the institute was Associate prof. Ladislav Zathurecký who had worked in this field since 1942. Among the other nestors of Slovak, galenic pharmacy, a relatively small number of well-known professors could be named, such as Prof. Milan Mandák, Prof. Milan Chalabala or Prof. Jan Rak.

In 1969 the Faculty of Pharmacy in Hradec Králové was founded which also meant that a new Department of Pharmaceutical Technology was established, led by Prof. Hubert Žáček, who had started at the faculty in Brno, then moved on to Bratislava, and finally returned to Bohemia. In the Czech Republic the last university department in the field is the Institute of Drug Technology, which was opened in the re-established Faculty of Pharmacy in Brno in 1991, under the leadership of Prof. Miroslava Rabišková. In Slovakia, the Department of Pharmacy Technology was established and supported by Prof. Miroslava Rabišková at the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Bratislava.