PHARMACY IN SWEDEN.
DR. N. P. HAMBERG,
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy to the Royal Caroline Institution, and to the Pharmaceutical
Institution of Stockholm.
PRINTED BY C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND
[From the Pharmaceutical Journal/o/ November, 18. r >l.]
PHARMACY IN SWEDEN.
BY DR. N. P. HAMBERG.
As the Pharmaceutical Journal already contains various articles upon the
state of Pharmacy in different countries, and as the Editor has expressed a wish
to have an article upon Pharmacy in Sweden, I have very great pleasure in
communicating my knowledge upon the subject, hoping, that if the notice is in
some degree incomplete, it will be excused, inasmuch as it is written from
In Sweden, as well as in many other countries, it has been the object of
Government, by laws and other regulations, to provide that the people for a
fixed moderate price, should obtain unadulterated medicines ; and by means of
limiting the number of shops, and preventing quacks or other incompetent
persons from interfering in the Pharmaceutical trade, have secured for the
Apothecaries or Dispensing Chemists ( Apothekare ) a sufficient competence.
That the attention of the Swedish Government for a long time has been
directed to Pharmacy is plain, from a royal resolution passed in the year 1663,
which commands the publication of a Pharmacopoeia ( Pharmakope ) and a price
list of medicines ( Medicinal Tcixa). The first Pharmacopoeia was published
some years afterwards (1686), under the name of “Pharmacopoeia Galeno-
chymica,” and about the same time a price list of medicines.
The first edition of Pharmacopoeia Svecica was published in 1775, and new
editions according to the progress of science from that time to 1845, which is
the sixth and last edition, The Swedish Pharmacopoeia is written only in Latin.
Collegium Medicum. — The superintendence and inspection of the Pharma-
ceutical as well as of the Medical establishments in Sweden are committed to
the charge of a Collegium Medicum ( Konglig Sundliets Collegium), whose
members (Medicinal Had) are nominated by the King ; and every candidate for
this office must be a Doctor of Medicine, whose degree has been obtained by
passing an examination.
Apprenticeship — Any youth who may wish to enter as apprentice in an
Apothecary’s shop, must be fifteen years of age, and ought to have gone
through a school-course of History, Geography, Mathematics, Latin, and
Assistant, or Pharmacies Studiosus. — The Apothecary must announce the
name of the apprentice for registration in the Collegium Medicum, and provide
for his instruction in Botany, Chemistry, and Pharmacy during the apprentice-
ship, which lasts from three to four yeai’S ; and after which time the student is
authorized to pass an examination in Botany, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Latin, and
Modern Languages. This examination must be passed in Stockholm, in the
Apothecaries’ Society ( Apothekare Societeten ), and in the country before the
official Physician of the province, together with the Apothecary who is the
master of the apprentice. After this examination his oath is taken in com-
pliance with the law and the official Pharmaceutical regulations, and he is now
declared “ Pharmacies Studiosus ,” and capable of exercising the functions of an
Assistant in a shop, and also answerable for the prescriptions prepared by him ;
and by way of a check he must always sign his name to the label of the pre-
(The apprentice or scholar is not answerable, and in consequence not allowed
PHARMACY IN SWEDEN.
to prepare any prescriptions, he may sell innocent medicines only, as elder and
chamomile flowers, juniper-berry, gumrni acaciae, &c.)
Pharmaceutical Institution. — After serving as an Assistant in a shop for
three years, and producing a testimonial of the fact, he may now enter as Pupil
at the Pharmaceutical Institution ( Pharmaceutiska Institutet) in Stockholm, and
there attend the lectures which are read in Botany, Materia Medica, and
Pharmaceutical Chemistry, from the beginning of October to the end of May,
with a few weeks vacations at Christmas. At the same time he must work two
days a week in the operations of the laboratory.
The fees for the lectures and the course in the laboratory are together about
<£1. I he Pupil has free admission to the lectures in Zoology, Botany, Materia
Medica, and Chemistry at the Royal Caroline Institution ( Konglig Carolinska
Institutet'), and to the excursions of the Assistant Professor of Botany, which
take place during the summer months, May, June, July, and August, in the
environs of Stockholm.
After finishing the course in the laboratory, the duration of which depends
upon the capacity of the Pupil, he may request a private trial ( tentamen ) by the
Professors in the prescribed branches of science, viz., Botany, Zoology, Materia
Medica, Theoretical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Toxicology.
If he can present in the Collegium Medicum a certificate from the Professors
of their satisfaction with the trial, a day will be appointed for examination,
which is conducted by two Professors at the Royal Caroline Institution, and
two of the Apothecaries in Stockholm before a member of the Collegium Medi-
cum. During the examination, whoever wishes, is allowed to be present, and
all the questions are registered in a book kept for that purpose, and a note
made whether or not the answers are correct. And the examiners express the
merits of the candidates by the following different terms : laudatur, cum laude
approbcitur , approbatur , cum approbation admittitur, and last of all, admittitur.
The examination is not passed unless the candidate receive the approbatur of
all the examiners.
Provtsor and Apothecary. — After the examinee has taken an oath before
the Collegium Medicum to comply with the laws and pharmaceutical regula-
tions, he is declared “ Provisor and Apothecary,” and obtains a diploma to that
effect. He is now at liberty to purchase by agreement an Apothecary’s shop,
if one becomes vacant, or through nomination, if a new one is required in any
part of the country.
The right ( privilegium ) of dispensing medicines in a shop, properly procurable
by personal permission from the Government, and which should cost only about
4 or £5 for the diploma, has become a traffic, and the price has gradually risen
to such an extent, that at the present time the privilegium, or good-will of one
of the best shops, is sold for about £3000— a sum beyond the reach of a poor
though clever student.
Those who have been interested in the success of Pharmacy in Sweden, have
proposed to mortgage ( amortisera ) the privileges by a loan ; but their benevolent
endeavours have been stranded by the difficulty of procuring so large a sum of
money necessary for mortgaging the privileges over the whole of Sweden.
When a person through purchase or inheritance has become possessed of an
Apothecary’s shop, he must announce it in the Collegium Medicum in order to
obtain from the Government confirmation of the privilege for himself.
If in any part of the country a new shop is required, the Collegium Medicum
announce it, and propose three of the most deserving candidates. The Govern-
ment nominates one of them. It is for the most part in country places, at a
distance from any town, that new Apothecaries’ shops are allowed for the con-
venience of the public. In the larger towns, on the contrary, they are rarely
The number of Apothecaries’ shops in Stockholm is fourteen, to a population
of 90,000. No new shop has been permitted during the last twenty years, as
the number has been found more than sufficient. For in Sweden, as in many
PHARMACY IN SWEDEN,
other countries, it is observed that the larger number of inhabitants and the
fewer shops the better are the medicines.
The Apothecaries have, in consequence, a sufficient competence ensured in
their calling, and are not compelled to enter into other trades. Hence it is
they love their profession, and by dispensing medicines of the best quality, strive
to obtain the confidence of the authorities and the public. On the contrary, if
the number of shops is very large — or, still worse, unlimited — the Apothecary
or Chemist cannot gain a subsistence from his profession, and is, therefore,
obliged to seek in other trades what he cannot find in his own ; and Pharmacy,
instead of being the main object, is reduced to an insignificant rank, and reflects
no credit upon its followers.
Under such a system, if each Apothecary train up one or more Assistants,
the number of candidates for shops will in time become extravagantly large,
and the difficulty of controlling them increases in the same proportion.
(Some of the Apothecaries in Sweden have endeavoured in consequence, to
employ Assistants only, and no Apprentices, in order to obviate too great com-
The Apothecaries’ Shops (Apothek). — The shops in the towns are for the
most part large, and internally are often arranged with considerable elegance.
The laboratory, according to the regulations, must contain a steam apparatus
for preparing decoctions, extracts, aromatic oils and waters, &c.
Decoctions and infusions must be prepared extempore.
Tinctures must be kept in a room in which the temperature is not under
15° Celsius, in order that the dissolved materials may not be precipitated by the
Native vegetables must be renewed every year, and the old stock destroyed.
The best medicines, if there are several kinds in commerce, must always be
Every shop has a sign of its own, derived from some animal or other object.
T o each medicine prepared according to a prescription must be attached a label,
on which is the name of the shop,
The so-called homoeopathic Apothecaries’ shops do not exist in Sweden.
L hey are not necessary, inasmuch as homoeopathy does not seem likely to be
long-lived there, and will soon become an historical curiosity. It is verv
probable — indeed, 1 believe it — that in Sweden as in other countries, many
hysterical ladies, or malades imaginaires, male as well as female, have perhaps
derived comfort from the potential homoeopathic sugar-grains and interesting
conversations with the homoeopathic long-suffering Physician. But Swedes, in
general, do not like this kind of medicine ; no foreign, and only one Swedish
L hysician practises homoeopathy in Stockholm, and, in the country, I believe,
not a single one.
I RESCRIPT IONS (ReCEPTEr) AND THE PRICE-LIST OF MEDICINES ('MeDICINAE
Iaxa.) lhe Chemist must put on every prescription the price, which must be
according to tlrn rate of the price-list at that time. The Swedish price-list of
medicines is revised every year, and the price of medicines is changed according
to the market price of the drugs. °
Medicines for external use ought to have a coloured label, and powerful
medicines are to be sealed.
'lhe Chemist must prepare medicines according to the u » CU i 6 ii x uarm
copoeia, unless the Physician has (expresses verbis') prescribed otherwise. T
Chemist is forbidden to prepare prescriptions of other than Physicians who are
allowed to practise in Sweden ; and a list of them is every year published by
Collegium Medicum. J
As a Physician is not allowed to keep an Apothecary’s shop, because he has
no Pharmaceutical diploma, so the Chemist is not allowed to practise in medi-
cine . the privilege of that is granted only to such persons as have gone through
a complete medical course at any of the Swedish Universities in Upsala or
Lund, or at the Medico-Ghirurgical Academy of the Royal Caroline Institution
PHARMACY IN SWEDEN.
in Stockholm. To gain admission into the last-mentioned Academy, the student
must have passed at some of the Universities a philosophical and philological
Foreign Physicians, unless they can present a diploma as Doctor of Medicine
from a well-known University, are not allowed to practise medicine in Sweden
without a so-called colloquium familiare in the Collegium Medicum, or medical
course at the Royal Caroline Institution.
As the time of the Apothecary is not employed in medical practice, and as
his competence is sufficient, he can, if he loves science, employ his spare hours
with tranquillity in working in that branch of science which he most affection-
If, in general, a greater scientific activity of the Pharmaceutical profession in
Sweden is to be desired, we must, however, with pleasure remember that private
individuals, distinguished in other countries for original scientific researches,
have been met with and are still to be found in Sweden. I will only here
mention the most distinguished: — For about a century ago lived in Ivdping (a
very small, and, for the greatest part of the world, unknown town in Sweden)
an Apothecary and Chemist, who, with great eagerness, was labouring in Che-
mistry. The good burghers in Kdping very likely thought him a clever
Apothecary, but none of them could foretell that their diligent friend the
Chemist, Carl Wilhelm (Charles William) Scheele, in his small insignificant simp,
was operating with experiments the I’esult of which should astonish the whole
Inspection of the Shops. — The Chemists’ shops in Sweden must, according
to the regulations, be inspected every year. These inspections are performed
in Stockholm by two professors or assistant-professors to the Royal Caroline
Institution, in presence of two Members of Collegium Medicum, and in the
country of the official Physician of the province, together with a magistrate.
As the official Physician of the province has not time enough for Pharma-
cognosy, the Collegium Medicum has of late proposed to the Government a
change^ in inspecting the shops in the country, so that, as in some part of
Germany, the whole country will be divided into a certain number of districts,
and every district obtain a travelling inspector.
Should the inspector find any adulterated or bad medicine it must be imme-
If an Apothecary is three times found to have sold adulterated medicines, he
directly loses his privilege, and must give up his shop to another person. .
It is at the same time a duty and a satisfaction for me to state, that medicines
in Sweden are commonly very good, and when adulterated articles are met
with are usually such as are imported.
Poisons, or other noxious medicines, which in the Swedish Pharmacopoeia
have this mark must not be sold without a sufficient prescription, which
ought to be retained by the Chemist, and not repeated without a note from the
Physician. ' ....
Poisoning is, consequently, very rare in Sweden, and when practised it is
commonly by means of white arsenic, which has probably been obtained fiom
a glass manufactory. . .
Secret medicines are forbidden in Sweden, in spite of which charlatans try
to sell secretly their all-relieving medicines, but they seem more and more to
lose the confidence of the public, and their credit, too, sinks in the same pio-
portion as the reputation of the scientific 1 liysician inci cases.
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