The pharmacy profession comprising the industrial and practice sectors is undergoing a rapid change. Indian Pharma industry which has registered a spectacular progress today ranks 4th in volume and 13th in value in the global pharmaceutical market with exports worth US Dollars 2.6 billion besides domestic sales amounting to over US Dollars 4 million. The ever expanding Pharma’s industrial and practice sectors need clinically and technologically trained pharmacy professionals who can face global challenges and compete with the multinationals. The pharmacist is no longer a mere dispenser of drugs but has assumed a more crucial role in medicine management and as overall health care programmer.
PCI as a pharmacy educationist regulatory body has realized the need to strengthen and upgrade the pharmacy curriculum to produce competent pharmacist workforce which is able to meet the growing demands of the industry and community. As a step towards this direction PCI has proposed some amendments to the Pharmacy Act which have been submitted to the Health Ministry for approval. Major amendments proposed are the imperative need of the pharmacy education to be regulated by PCI alone to avoid duplicacy and dichotomy and also the upgradation of minimum registrable qualification from Diploma to Degree in pharmacy besides introduction of “Pharmacy Practice Regulations” for the first time in the country. This will certainly revolutionize the pharmacy education system to meet the growing demand of profession by ensuring competent workforce. To ascertain the views of the Pharmacy professionals on the proposed amendments, PCI convened a special meeting of all the stakeholders like representatives of Drug Control Deptts., Academics, Chemists & Druggist Associations, IPA, IHPA, MCI etc. with Health Ministry officials. The proposed amendments were appreciated and supported by all the Pharmacy professionals citing the amendments as futuristic and very well envisaged. PCI has been actively pursuing the matter with the Health Ministry. In November, 2006, a presentation highlighting the salient features of amendment to Pharmacy Act was made to Hon’ble Health Minister. PCI has also forwarded a note to the Health Ministry for consideration of the “Committee of Secretaries” to solve the dual regulation of pharmacy education by PCI & AICTE.
Further the PCI has envisaged the need to set up National Schools of Pharmacy jointly by PCI and the Pharma Industry as a centre of excellence which will produce high quality pharmacist workforce tailor-made to suit the requirements of the industry. A committee of experts has been constituted to frame an action plan for making the proposed National School of Pharmacy a reality.
To meet the growing requirements of the practice side and to overcome the problems being faced by Indian pharmacy graduates in practicing the pharmacy profession in foreign countries, the PCI has approached the Health Ministry for approval to introduce Pharm.D and Pharm.D (Post Bacclaureate) programmes as registrable qualifications. In these programmes greater emphasis will be laid on clinical pharmacy practice, practice management, drug information and professional communication etc. which are an integral part of any community health care network.
PCI has also initiated number of measures for updation of knowledge bank of our pharmacists by way of conducting refresher courses in collaboration with State Pharmacy Councils, sourcing of books from Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Association, London and free of cost distribution to pharmacy institutions and State Councils for dissemination of scientific and professional knowledge.
PCI is also trying for sanction of Rs.100 crores from the Planning Commission under the 11th Five Year Plan for important professional activities like continuing education for teachers and working pharmacists, travel grants for exchange programmes between India & Foreign countries, grants to institution for upgradation of infrastructural facilties etc.
For ensuring effective regulation of pharmacy education in the country, few more measures taken by the PCI are periodic national level meeting of its inspectors to update them on inspection process, compilation of teachers directory containing details of teachers working in pharmacy institutions all over the country, revision of application forms to be submitted by pharmacy institutions by introducing more quality parameters to be assessed at the time of inspection etc.
PCI is committed to the cause of Pharmacists and pharmacy profession. I take this opportunity to call upon all pharmacy professionals to share the vision of PCI and join hands with us in our endeavour to produce pharmacist workforce competent for the society.