Why was the Apothecary Act enacted in 19th Century England?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Apothecaries Act was enacted in 1815 (on July 12) with the aim of better regulation of the practice of apothecaries in England and Wales. This act is considered to be the beginning of medical reforms in England.

As early as 1793, agitations started for the regulation of medical practitioners and control of the practices of apothecaries. Apothecaries were practically working as general medical practitioners by the mid-eighteenth century. This practice was more common in the countryside and they were catering to patients from poor and lower-middle class backgrounds. Many of them not only prescribed and supplied medicines, but also practiced surgery. These "surgeon-apothecaries" were reportedly treating 95% of the patients. Chemists started over the apothecaries' business by prescribing and supplying medicines. Another issue was the lack of proper education and training for most of these apothecaries. The presence of local governing bodies and guilds ensured that no uniform standards could exist. The agitators raised a call for a regulating body and control of the entry of people into the trade (by requiring proper education and apprenticeship). 

And thus the Apothecaries Act was born. This was however not without its own drawbacks...

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