Abstract: The paper analyzes the effects of medicines policy on the functional separation of pharmacy and drugstore businesses from the early 19th century to the Second World War. Attempts to maintain personal and professional interests in the delivery of medicines prompted the long-standing dispute between pharmacists and druggists over the control and trade of drugs and poisons. The issue of state control generated complex processes that emphasized the professional role of pharmacists as providers of pharmaceutical services and druggists as wholesalers of medicines.

Keywords: wholesale drugstores, retail drugstores, history of pharmacy, drug policy, medicines, poisons, legislation, public health


The changing role of drugstores in Serbia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries reflects health authorities’ efforts to identify and implement medication policy goals. Despite being founded primarily to supply medications to pharmacies, drugstores were involved in the direct supply of drugs to Serbian citizens during the 19th century. However, starting in 1904, different regulations began to limit the activity of drugstores. By analyzing regulatory, sociological, and historical elements, we attempted to explain how the activities and operations of drugstores and pharmacies developed on Serbian territory and perhaps even draw an outline of subsequent medication policy in the Serbian healthcare system. Following the creation of the Kingdom of SCS/Yugoslavia, laws concerning the storage and circulation of medicines, drugs, and poisons were enacted, which helped to improve the population’s health security. These regulations emphasize the distinction between drugstores and pharmacies, and they also recognize each entity’s right to offer specific medicines and poisons. The old practice of drugstores keeping and selling a wide range of medical products was changed by the regulation on the circulation and control of medications and poisons. A comparative analysis of the three groups of poisons defined by the Rulebook on the Traffic and Control of Narcotic Drugs and Poisons (1930) and the Regulation on the Traffic and Control of Poisons (1932) demonstrates how the distinction was established in the pharmacy, wholesale drugstore, and retail drugstore business sectors. As a result, their domain of operation was completely separated, while drugstores obtained a significant position exclusively in the supply chain.