Are pharmacists and colleges ready for a big change?


Amit Gangwal

Perhaps for the first time in the history of pharmaceutical sciences (from view point of academicians, graduating pharmacy students and other stake holders) things are appearing (not confirmed) vibrant and auguring well looking at future. This has been made possible by the recent notification in Gazette of India. Though I could not construe the meaning what is being interpreted by many on social platforms and few newspapers have also published the same. The newspapers’ shots I am sharing here for better understanding of readers and other stake holders. This interpretation of certain people on social media has also been opposed by Indian Medical Association (IMA). IMA said the notification by government does not empowers or entitles registered pharmacists to practice as qualified MBBS.

Without going into legality or various interpretations of published gazette, I would like to ponder on a scenario few months or years down the line. If pharmacist opens the clinical set up to work as clinical pharmacist (this is still debatable), then what will happen. I am writing about challenges and opportunities. There will be failure at multiple fronts. As more and more issues will come to fore. This cell and tablet trotting generation will not be so much successful until they devote time for their dreams. Here dreams means ambitions, higher goals and likes of. Now I start my points.

Pharmacology is the most important discipline which differentiates medical doctors from pharmacists. Since doctors are mainly concerned with internal anatomy and associated stuff. They no doubt read pharmacology at various levels as part of their curriculum, but over the years they get busy in bigger roles like surgeries, training programs, CMEs and other routine (kindly take this point positively). Needless to say that if they keep reading pharmacology then society will not be benefited from their major role as doctors. Here comes the role of pharmacist, who (not all) later become medical representatives in sales teams of pharmaceutical companies. They update doctors about various features of companies’ product portfolio and how the product in question acts in body.

How many students are interested in doing practice as clinical pharmacists? Are there enough stuff in pharmacy colleges which are required to explain the basics of pharmacology explicitly? Let’s don’t go in details about ban on dissection of animals, though I advocate this ban.


If pharmacist just want to dispense / advice / recommend medicines for primary health care then there is no use of their being pharmacist, because a grocery store owner, cosmetic supplier or even panwalla in India know that for pain the best name comes in mind is Combiflame and likewise. The same is applicable for other routine signs and symptoms. This scenario is made possible by habits of self-medication and sliding of prescription brands into OTC category over the years.

Proper medication and perfect patient counselling with sound knowledge of each and every drug molecule is the main task of pharmacists. Here I mean to say is pharmacist should not challenge his memory by naming and recalling all the brand names because there are more than one brand for a particular drug molecule. What is important is, his basics should be very solid and envious when s/he explains indications, contraindications and side effects to patients. This requires proper study of pharmacology, besides anatomy and physiology. Merely cramming classification of drugs in mind won’t help the pharmacist community. Opportunities will now definitely come to pharmacists as process has begun. How many pharmacists are aware about nomenclature of drug molecules, clinical trials etc. I mean to say, bigger exposure is must, if you want to explore and employ your rights as practicing pharmacist. A decade into teaching helped me sharing these views cum experience of mine. I am not against changes (if it is implemented with proper understanding), but I need pharmacists to have sound knowledge and training before they could even impress doctors and other fraternity members.

This would again require a detailed studies of formulae of various brands, their optimization based on type and need of patients. If we talk about pharmacy colleges and faculties, then scenario is not very impressive. As mentioned in my earlier editorials too how many colleges are churning entrepreneurs? I am not commenting here on salary of faculties and what type of duties they are assigned by principals and managements. In following concluding paragraph I am throwing light on rapidly changing scenario across the industries while hiring the talent or raw talent.

It has become crucial for employees to constantly elevate and enhance their skills to be in the race. They have to be ready to adapt and learn new. One needs to be contemporary in the known fields and also a quick go-getter and learner of upcoming trends and technology. Gone are the days when taking a higher degree was enough to earn bread and butter using it until one retires. With newer technologies entering in, by the time you leave campus, your skills get outdated. This further poses a challenge for employees to be.



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