As early as the seventeenth century, some medicinal substances were manufactured on a relatively large scale, as, for example, Nehemiah Grew and the Moult brothers with their rival productions of Epsom salts. In the eighteenth century a man practising pharmacy, whether apothecary or chemist and druggist, made his 'back shop' the centre of his manufacturing activities, even if it were on but a small scale. Where photographs exist of the 'laboratories' of what appear to be quite small pharmacies, one is surprised at the amount of equipment displayed, forgetting how self-sufficient they aimed to be. This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. It discusses a survey of the early pharmaceutical industry and what were named 'Apothecaries' Companies', usually started by a group of doctors, ostensibly to ensure themselves a source of pure drugs.