Pillar of Trust

The Timeless Role of Pharmacists in Regional Communities

In Australia, particularly in regional or isolated communities, pharmacists were some of the most trusted and respected people as they applied their knowledge to keep their community healthy.

Pharmacy in Australia was largely based on practices that had been established in England, where pharmacies were separate from doctors and held sole dispensing rights for prescribed medications. Legal documents professionalised the practice, with the Pharmacy Act passed by Victoria in 1876, and by NSW later in 1897.

One of the tools that allowed pharmacists to do their job properly was this pill machine. It was invented c. 1750 in Germany and quickly spread to the rest of the world. It was easy to use and effective, remaining relatively unchanged for over two hundred years until mechanical machines took over in the 1930s. They were usually made from wood and brass though this one also has a marble work surface.

The pharmacist would combine powdered medication and a binder into a dough-like consistency before creating long rods on the work surface. The rods were placed across the ridged, brass surface, and the baton was moved back and forth across them, cutting the rods into smaller sized portions, creating pills.

Today, while most medications are mechanically mass produced, some compounding pharmacies still use similar (although updated) tools to make pills, and all pharmacists play a role in keeping their communities healthy. So even though the tools of the trade may have changed, their importance within their community has not.