K. SRINIVAS REDDY

With plans to start a six-year Pharm. D course in the country, pharmacy education will be on par with courses offered in any other foreign country

Pharma industry has certainly earned a reputation for India. And Andhra Pradesh can stake claim for a lion’s share in this credit with the industry gaining popularity not only for the manufacture of bulk drugs but also in inventing new formulations.

However, the career path of a pharma degree holder was not rising that steeply especially in respect of opportunities in foreign countries, though the sunrise industry had indeed provided placements for the pharma graduates within the country.

But now, thanks to the initiative shown by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and the Central government, the future promises to be rosy for pharma grads.

Employment

If everything goes as per schedule, a six-year Pharm. D course will be introduced in the country bringing pharmacy education on par with any other foreign country, thereby increasing the factory of employability in other countries.

Hitherto, pharma graduates of India could not get lucrative jobs abroad for the simple reason that Pharma education in India was not on par with the international standards. Essentially, pharma graduates from India were unfit to take up jobs as clinical pharmacists, where a pharmacist would educate the patient about the prescribed drugs.

Job criteria

While a physician’s job is just to diagnose and prescribe the medicine, the pharmacist has to advise the patient on correct drugs, correct doses, correct formulations, and correct times to take the medicine.

However, such a practice has not existed in India with pharma education laying totally emphasis on the industry side.

There was more focus on the pharmaceutical industry while totally ignoring the clinical side of pharma education. And it was on the clinical side that lucrative jobs were on the offer in foreign countries.

Invariably, a graduate of pharmacy in India was not even being considered for any job on the clinical side abroad. After much delay, the Government of India has now agreed to the proposals put up by the PCI for introducing a six-year Pharm. D course in India.

Notification

A gazette notification to this effect was also issued in May 2008 listing out the regulationsHaving the Gazette notification, the PCI is now working out the modalities for starting the course.

In all probability, the course could start this September or if things get delayed, it would be thrown open for students who completed their intermediate education from next academic year.

As per the gazette notification, there would be 30 seats per college, which is approved by the PCI under section 12.

In effect, there would be 32 colleges offering this course in Andhra Pradesh. The stringent stipulation is that every college permitted to offer this course must have a hospital with 300 beds. If not, the college should have a memorandum of understanding with such a hospital.

The student of Pharm. D would be visiting the hospitals in second, third and fourth years and during the fifth year, there would be compulsory hospital ward visits and the final sixth year would be that of residency like that of a house surgeon for medicine.

The subjects would include clinical pharmacy, clinical toxicology, clinical pharmaco kinetics, therapeutic drug monitoring, pharmaco epidemology, bio-pharmaceutics and others. The eligibility will be intermediate with MPC or BPC.

Post-Baccalaureate

For those who have already completed their B.Pharm course can also pursue a three-year Pharm. D (Post Baccalaureate) course. There would be ten seats each in a college, which are approved under section 12 by the PCI.

According to M. Venkata Reddy, PCI member, the new course would throw open many opportunities for Indian students as the core curriculum is as per international standards.

Those who completed the Pharm. D course can seek employment abroad in community pharmacy after clearing NAPLEX (National Association of Pharmacists License Exam) or FPGEE (Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalent Exam).