Pharmacists across India welcome stopping of registration of D Pharm as basic qualification for pharmacists


Healthcare pharmacists in government sector all over India have welcomed the suggestion given to the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) by veteran pharmacy academician and AICTE expert, Dr KG Revikumar, with regards to upgrading the minimum qualification of a registered pharmacist in the country from D Pharm to B Pharm. Most of the pharmacists are of the opinion that based on the qualifications in pharmaceutical sciences, the areas of career should be identified and ascertained for each category of degree holders. All the state associations of the government pharmacists want the PCI to stop the course of Diploma in Pharmacy and increase the number of degree colleges in place. They also urge the central pharmacy council to conduct a bridge course for the diploma holders to upgrade them to the pharmacy graduates.

Gajendra Kumar Pathak, leader of pharmacist association and working pharmacist at the health sub-centre in Almora in Uttarakhand, commented that a graduate pharmacist can give quality services to the patients coming to the hospital and his higher qualification can strengthen the profession which is part of the healthcare management. According to him, the PCI is inactive and lethargic as it had announced earlier that the D Pharm course would be stopped shortly and the degree programme would be promoted. But, so far the pharmacy council has not taken any step towards that end.

“Pharmacy profession has now become a least-important area of career because of the inability of its stakeholders. There are lakhs of medical shops all around the country without having qualified and registered pharmacists. But, the PCI now wants more and more pharmacists to legalize these shops. The situation has emerged due to the support of those who were responsible for protecting the law of the land. Had the PCI followed the laws strictly, no medical shop without registered pharmacist would have opened in any part of the country”, said Pathak.

Dr Ajay Babladikar, a pharmacist and exporter of pharmaceutical products to foreign countries from Telengana said the D Pharm holders must be stopped from registering as pharmacists. However, on a set of regulations, they can be accepted in the pharmacy professional sector assigned with a specified job. He said separate qualification in pharmacy should be fixed for each segment in the profession. According to him, it is unfair to call the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) holders as mere pharmacists equal to those of diploma holders. The Pharm D graduates should be allowed to register as pharmacy doctors or clinical pharmacists. Likewise, their role in the pharmacy profession must be specified and they should be given the right to prescription auditing, counseling to patients, monitoring of drug reactions, etc.

J Jayaseelan, a pharmaceutical industry doyen in Tamil Nadu and chairman of TN IDMA, said since India has at present adequate number of graduates (B Pharm), it is necessary to make the minimum qualification requirement of a pharmacist as bachelor of pharmacy. According to him, previously there was shortage of pharmacists and the diploma was made the minimum requirement. But it has to be changed and the PCI must come forward to upgrade the status and qualification of the pharmacy profession. If the qualification is raised to degree level, it will help for proper and quality dispensing. Fully agreeing with the idea of Dr. KG Revikumar for phasing out diploma course in pharmacy, Prof. Roop Krishen Khar, Principal at the B.S. Anangpuria Institute of Pharmacy in Faridabad, said the issue is being raised since last 10 years on various professional platforms. The country needs more degree colleges and stop starting new diploma institutions in large numbers. PCI can also work on promoting the bridge course introduced for upgrading the qualification of diploma holders to degree level.

Dr. N.S. Jeganathan, Professor & HOD at the Department of Pharmacognosy at Surya School of Pharmacy at Villupuram in Tamil Nadu said PCI must take measures for upgrading the qualification of the pharmacists and the status of the profession. But he is of opinion that it is wrong to say that various associations should represent the matter to the AICTE. PCI is the supreme authority as far as pharmacy education is concerned. Court observation is also there in this regard. AICTE does not have any role to play hereafter. Meanwhile, Rajat Raj, secretary of the Pharmacy Welfare Committee Bihar (PWCB) said the services of the diploma pharmacists in the Indian healthcare scenario are very much important. According to him, there are 11 lakh D Pharm holders in the country. It is unfair to say that all the diploma institutions should be closed and degree colleges be established in place. Considering the situation of the country, the PCI can fix age limit for diploma and degree courses. For the purpose of practicing in pharmacies, PCI can increase the period of the diploma course to three years from the present two.

According to information from academic sources, there are very few pharmacy colleges in Bihar and most of the registered pharmacists are diploma holders. A Nigerian pharmacist working in Bangalore, Abubakar Auwalu Adamu, commented that D Pharm qualification provides a platform for merely business and not for the profession in the manner what it should be. So, B. Pharm should be made the minimum requirement for registration as pharmacist. It will help to meet the challenges and also to compete with the professional sectors across the world.

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