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Pharmacy vs. “farmacy”

Don’t be confused—learn the differences

Do you know the difference between a pharmacy, spelled with a “ph,” and a farmacy, spelled with an ‘f’?

A pharmacy is a licensed facility that sells medicinal drugs and employs pharmacists who are licensed and specially trained as medication experts. They’re able to answer any of your medication questions in an honest, well thought-out and educated way. Pharmacies and pharmacists are licensed by a state board of pharmacy, with strict laws on their business and patient care practices.

A business that calls itself a “farmacy” or a “pharm” should not be confused with a licensed pharmacy. Some use food as “medicine,” selling healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and encourage healthy dieting, which can benefit your overall health. Some are known for selling alternative medicinal products, like herbal supplements and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD can be sold in forms like oil drops, capsules, syrups, teas and topical lotions and creams. Employees of farmacies or pharms are not required to have pharmacy training or be licensed to provide medical care.

Consumers should be cautious when purchasing and using dietary supplements, including CBD. While “natural” products are often touted as healthy, they are not subjected to the same standards as medications, approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Your pharmacist is well-equipped to discuss the risks and benefits of such products. The farmacy is not. Additionally, consumers should be wary of natural products, which can be advertised as helpful, but can actually be harmful.

It’s important that we protect the reputation of pharmacies and pharmacists. In fact, Kentucky law agrees, prohibiting the use of “pharmacy or apothecary…or any form designed to take the place of such a title” except by licensed pharmacies and pharmacists. While the terms farmacy and farmacist may not be used with ill-intent, they are misleading and a risk to public health. It’s like personal care assistants calling themselves nurses—not to say they’re not performing a good service, but a nurse, like a pharmacist, is specially trained and licensed. 

Overall, it’s important to be educated about what you put into your body. While we do not want to see any businesses closed, we do have an interest in protecting the identity of a pharmacist—one of the most trusted health care professionals.

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