By the mid-21st century, we realised the future of healthcare wasn’t medicine, it was genetics. Breakthroughs in the manipulation of chromosomes and stem cell biotechnology meant that by 2025 our bodies no longer developed cancer, didn't succumb to cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s was ironically forgotten.
And without long-term conditions to treat, there was no need for long-term medication. With no purpose for antihypertensives or hypoglycaemics, there was no requirement for prescribers or dispensing chemists. The end of pharmacy, you would think.
Actually this meant more drugs, not less, because even a perfect human body has its limitations. Perfect hearing and perfect sight don’t make for a better experience – you need that experience enhanced, tuned and upgraded. The children of the 1960s understood this, but the cannabis and acid of our grandparents seems as crude as chewing willow bark to relieve pain, now that we have refined the designer drugs of the early 21st century to become a normal, essential part of life.
And so, despite the pharmacy cuts of 2016, a mere 10 years later pharmacies flourished as the place to socialise and hang out with friends. In these hedonistic days, all social interaction is enriched by this new generation of pharmaceuticals – designed to augment and increase everyday sensations.
Walk into any pharmacy today and you will see students drinking modafinil lattes to help them finish their dissertations. You will probably hear cascades of laughter coming from a circle of chairs and baby buggies, where a crowd of young mums enjoy a pot of empathy magnifiers to help them more fully experience a gamut of emotions. As they swap stories and gossip – enhanced with sentiment stimulants – they alternate between great wailing sobs of despair and exultant hysterical laughter.
Even at home people are ‘breaking bad’, downloading the latest blends of chemical compounds to their personal 3D printers – the pharmaceutical version of a bean-to-cup espresso machine.
And yet, while shares in hallucinogenic and augmentative pharma companies soared, some people began to feel that this high-tech experience was almost too pure. Just as a rebellion against the cold, clinical sound of digital music led to a revival of old-fashioned vinyl records, so the same happened with these drugs.
That’s why my little chemist shop has survived – a relic of a bygone age where I do a brisk trade in vintage drugs such as nitrous oxide, caffeine and even nicotine. It’s seen as a bit trendy and old school, but the Goths and hipsters of today who come in with their archaic inhalators keep me going. Although, to be honest, this isn’t quite how I imagined the future of medicine to be.