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‘The use of the c-word does community pharmacy no favours’

“I have to say, dear C+D, it’s time to change your name”

The term “chemist” is outdated and doesn’t describe what modern pharmacy teams do, so the word should be removed and C+D’s name changed, says David Reissner

In an album somewhere, I have a photo taken on holiday in Orlando, Florida. It shows me standing next to a sign that says: “No solicitors”. I’ve always been proud to be a solicitor, but I’ve often wished the name of my profession didn’t sound so archaic.

I was reminded of that photo when I read Professor David Wright’s report on community pharmacy contractor representation, published in June.

Of course, the structure of the pharmacy profession and its representation are the most important parts of the review, but one feature of the report has attracted less attention.

Some may say it isn’t important or say that titles don’t matter, but I’m going to tackle it here anyway – hoping that I don’t upset the journalists and editor of this fine magazine, which I’ve enjoyed reading and contributing to for many years.

Professor Wright said in his report: “One thing which surprised us…was the consistent use of the term ‘chemist’ to denote ‘community pharmacy or community pharmacist’. This seemed antiquated and completely inappropriate in a time where pharmacies no longer use the term in practice.”

I have long felt that the use of the quaint term “chemist” fails to project a modern image that reflects what today’s pharmacy teams do. I inwardly groan when I see the word “chemist” in a newspaper report, and I complain aloud when I hear it on television. The use of the c-word in business names, in the names of organisations and in magazine titles does community pharmacy no favours.

I have to say, dear C+D, it’s time to change your name. The magazine celebrated its 160th birthday last year. C+D has moved exclusively online, in keeping with our times, but the title is showing its age.

Imagine how we would all be squirming in our seats if Have I Got News for You selected Chemist+Druggist for its missing words round, like other esoteric titles such as Potato Storage International, Poultry World or Lighthouse Digest.

I realise there are other publications that already use “pharmacy” in their titles, but I’m sure something suitable could be found.

Adopting the recommendations made by the recent Wright review may not be easy, but my personal view is that we should get behind all of them. This includes the recommendation that “as part of the modernisation process the term ‘chemist’ should be removed, wherever possible, from all documentation and replaced with the appropriate name”.

David Reissner is a solicitor and chair of the Pharmacy Law & Ethics Association

In response to this article, C+D editor Beth Kennedy said: “C+D has been championing community pharmacy for over 160 years and – unsurprisingly – the profession, as well as this publication, has changed a lot during that time. What hasn’t changed though, is our unwavering support for community pharmacy teams and excellent journalism.

“C+D has earned its status of a household name for community pharmacy professionals by supporting, informing and championing the sector over the course of more than a century.

“While ‘chemist’ may feel like an outdated term for some, we feel it’s important to nod to the excellent work that previous C+D teams have done for the sector, which is why we won’t be changing our name any time soon.”


Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

So the word Druggist is not outdated?


Joy Wingfield, Manager

Well I agree with David. A chemist studies chemistry; a pharmacist, pharmacy. But we have been trying for at least 40 years to change the public and media's use of the term "chemist". Sadly it's one letter shorter than pharmacy for headlines. But they call them pharmacies in America without any difficulties.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I can't see Joe Public saying 'I'm just popping to the Community Pharmacy for my tablets' can you??

C A, Community pharmacist

Isn't the C-word - cost? Like the DOH saying "do this, do that" and not enought pharmacists replying "that will cost a pretty penny"

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I thought you were going to say the c word is "clinical" !

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