History of Pharmacy
India is rich in traditional and indigenous knowledge from the ancient times. Traditional healers used to extract medicines from different sources like vegetable, animal and mineral for curing various diseases. Traditional medicines were prepared empirically by few experienced persons and the traditional knowledge of that medicinal system was usually kept secret within a family. However, the scientific methods of standardization of the drugs were lacking. The western or the so-called Allopathic system came into India with the British traders who later became the rulers. Under British rule, this system got state patronage. At that time, it was meant for the ruling race only. Later, it descended to the people and became popular by the close of 19th century.
Pharmacy education in India was initiated by Portuguese in 1842 while degree program in pharmacy was first started in 1937 at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. To practice as a pharmacist in India, one needs at least a Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm), which is awarded after only 2 years and 3 months of completing the course. These diploma-trained pharmacists are the mainstay of pharmacy practice. The higher degrees like Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm), Master of Pharmacy (M. Pharm) and Ph. D degrees were also taught in various universities and colleges throughout India. There has been a surge in the number of institutions offering pharmacy degrees at various levels and a practice-based Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degree program was started in some private institutions in 2008.
Importance of Pharmacy
Pharmacy plays a vital role in production, distribution and research for new drugs and in the spreading out of related knowledge. Pharmacists are the principal resource to patients and other health professionals in assuring the appropriate use of medications and achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes from the same. In order to fulfill these requirements, a dynamic, comprehensive and challenging curriculum must be the basis for an up-to-date and modern pharmaceutical education including the following areas of study: physical, chemical, biological, biomedical sciences, clinical and pharmaceutical practice with special aspects related to ethics, health care organizations, professional issues and communication skills. Pharmacists are health professionals who dispense medications, advice patients regarding the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. They are also commonly known as druggists or chemists. They play a significant role in helping people get the best results from their medications as they are familiar with the medicinal ingredients and related cautions. People approach pharmacists for any health-related queries, what to do in case of a missed dose and what effect foods, drinks, drugs or activities can have on the medication. Basically, they are the experts in medicine and everything related to the use of medicines. If this is something that excites the students, then pursuing a course in pharmacy is a good option for the science students. So, a qualified and experienced pharmacist would be involved in the research and development of drugs, manufacturing of drugs, marketing and dispensing of drugs and so on. In India, the patients need to rely on the prescriptions of a doctor. Yet, the drug stores would serve as semi-clinics to address general health issues. The latest development in pharmacy would be the emerging use of data analysis in various business operations. Data science has a crucial role to play in the process of making drugs, analyzing them, prescribing them and distributing them. So, modern pharmacists need to learn and adapt to the latest technology to beat the competition.
Learning Areas in Pharmacy
The pharmaceutical education includes a mix of theory, practical classes, examinations and compulsory industrial/hospital training depending on the course selected. The eligibility for admission in various pharmacy related diploma/undergraduate courses is higher secondary (10+2) with science subject. A variety of pharmacy degree programs are offered in India like Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm), Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm), Master of Pharmacy (M. Pharm), Master of Science in Pharmacy [MS (Pharm)], Master of Technology in Pharmacy [MTech (Pharm)], Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D), and Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacy (PhD). All the pharmacy courses are regulated by Pharmacy Council of India, New Delhi. All the institutes/universities running the pharmacy courses should be affiliated to Pharmacy Council of India. The eligibility and duration of the courses are depicted in the following figure:
- Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm)
A student after completion of D. Pharm can be employed as a registered pharmacist in community pharmacy (medical store/chemists and druggists) or a hospital pharmacy. D. Pharm is the minimum qualification to practice pharmacy or for dispensing of prescriptions. After completion of the course, the candidates may also open their own drug store or can be employed as medical representative. They may also pursue B. Pharm by taking lateral entry to the second year in B. Pharm on a merit basis.
- Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm)
B. Pharm is a 4-year course required for those who focus to work in the pharmaceutical industries. The course includes academic and practical training along with theoretical subjects. In B. Pharm, the students undergo practical training (internship) in a pharmaceutical industry. A student after completion of B. Pharm can be employed as a registered pharmacist in community pharmacy (medical store/ chemists and druggists) or a hospital pharmacy. After completion of the course, the candidates may be employed in various pharmaceutical industries in production, quality control and research. They can start their career in pharmacovigilance. The main four subjects included in D. Pharm and B. Pharm are pharmacology, pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacognosy which are known as pillars of pharmacy. In pharmacology, students learn about the study of how a drug affects the biological system and how the body responds to the drug while pharmaceutics deals with the process of turning a new chemical entity or old drugs into a medication that can be used safely and effectively by the patients. Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines or crude drugs produced from natural sources such as plants, microbes, minerals and animals while pharmaceutical (medicinal) chemistry is concerned with the design (drug design) and synthesis of biologically active molecules. There are many other subjects associated with these four subjects.
- Master of Pharmacy (M. Pharm)
A B. Pharm candidate is eligible to do M. Pharm by qualifying the competitive exam, Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT). The duration of M. Pharm is 2 years. The various specializations in M. Pharm are pharmacology, pharmaceutics, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacognosy and phytochemistry, pharmaceutical biotechnology, regulatory affairs, pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical analysis and quality assurance.
- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D)
Pharm D is a professional doctorate in the pharmacy where significant clinical education is provided for the safe and effective use of drugs. It is a 6-year doctorate level course with five years of academic study and one year of internship or residency. It includes the important subjects related to community pharmacy, clinical toxicology, pharmacotherapeutics, clinical research, hospital pharmacy and pharmaceutical care.
- Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacy (PhD)
A master degree is required to gain admission to a doctoral program (PhD). A candidate can do his doctoral studies in pharmaceutical sciences on the basis of his specialization in M. Pharm. Student can also pursue their PhD degree from many research organizations.
Career Opportunities in Pharmacy
Pharmacy programs provide a solid foundation in biomedical sciences and prepare individuals for a wide range of career options. The different prospects of pharmacy are as follows:
- Hospital Pharmacist
A candidate with minimum D. Pharm qualification can be employed in both central and state government hospitals as hospital pharmacist. They may also be placed in various private hospitals like Apollo, Narayana Health, Manipal Hospital, etc. as hospital pharmacists.
- E-commerce Pharmacist
There are many e-commerce pharmacy companies like Medlife, Netmeds, PharmEasy, SastaSundar, 1mg, etc. Day after day, internet users are increasing in India. So, the online pharmacy stores are also increasing to fulfill customer’s needs. So, e-commerce pharmacist is going to be a big pharmacy career option. There is a big demand for online executive pharmacists. Any pharmacy degree holder like D. Pharm, B. Pharm, M. Pharm, Pharm D are eligible for these jobs.
- Industrial Pharmacist
In big industries like Coal India, Ambuja Cement, etc. there are medical or health centers where pharmacists are required. Any pharmacy degree holder like D. Pharm, B. Pharm, M. Pharm, Pharm D are eligible for these jobs.
- Pharmaceutical Marketing
Pharmaceutical marketing refers to the marketing of drugs by private and public organizations to doctors, clinicians and consumers. Candidates with any pharmacy degree may be appointed as Medical Representative or Area Sales Manager in these companies.
- Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical production or manufacturing industry is a big platform for pharmacy students to get jobs. In India, there are various pharmaceutical production hubs at Sikkim, Gujrat, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, etc. Pharmacy graduates are eligible to work in industries in various departments like storage, production, quality control, quality assurance, etc.
Clinical research is one of the most important areas of the clinical field. So, there is a good job opportunity for pharmacists. There are various divisions like pharmacovigilance, drug safety, adverse event management, etc. There are various service-based IT companies like Cognizant, Wipro, TCS, etc. Pharmacy graduates are eligible to work in these areas.
- Drug Inspector
A drug inspector is a professional in the field of pharmacy who is an expert in monitoring and executing efficiency, safety, quality and usefulness of drugs from the production stage to the final i.e. selling stage. Candidates having minimum B. Pharm degree are eligible for these posts.
- Pharmacy Shop
- Starting own medicine shop- A candidate having pharmacy degree (D. Pharm or B. Pharm) can open his own pharmacy shop.
- Starting franchisee medicine shop- There are a lot of pharmacy retail chain companies like Apollo Pharmacy, MedPlus Pharmacy, Netmeds Pharmacy, etc. They are finding for franchisee partners. Students can apply for that franchisee. For this business, students just need a shop, a drug license, and 5 to 10 lakh rupees of investment. This is one of the growing fields in pharmacy retail sector.
- Academician in Pharmaceutical Institutions
Candidates with M. Pharm/PhD are eligible for the position of Assistant Professor in private or government pharmacy colleges or institutes.
- Research Fellowships
If students are interested in innovation or want to do research on drugs or drug delivery systems, then they can go for research fellowships. Students should be GPAT (Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test) qualified or NET (National Eligibility Test) qualified. Students can get a good amount of stipend from the government of India. Various pharmaceutical companies are waiting for eligible pharmacy students for research and development jobs.
- Research Positions
Candidates having M. Pharm or PhD degree are eligible to apply for the post of research scientist in government/private research and development organizations. B. Pharm degree holders may be employed for the research assistant posts.
- Working with the Journal Publishers
There are a lot of medical and drug research journal publishing organizations. They want journal writers and editors. This is a good pharmacy career for students having good writing skills (applicable for B. Pharm, M. Pharm or PhD).
- Writing Healthcare Articles
If students have a clear knowledge of medicinal or drug related topics and if they have good writing skills, then they can go for the job of medical and health content writer. Students (B. Pharm) can apply to companies like Cognizant, Omics International, etc.
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