Pharmacy in India – Society, Industry & Education Mismatch

The scene of pharmacy employment in India is drastically different, and not in a good way, from that In the West. Ideally, a pharmacist plays crucial role in patient healthcare by advising them on judicious and safe use of medication. He reviews patients’ medication history to ensure safe drug dispensing and administration. A pharmacist plays a key role in gauging possible adverse drug-drug and drug-food interactions and accordingly dispense drugs. He is well updated on the information of benefits and risk of the drugs in terms of possible allergic reactions and should be competent to alter the prescription to suit the patient’s profile, need and medication history.

Sadly, the scene of Indian pharmacy practice is too far from what it is supposed to be. The mismatch between the Indian society, Pharmaceutical industry and Pharmacy education in India is primarily responsible for this.

The treatment of a patient lies in the hands of medical and paramedical professionals. Pharmaceutical care is an important component of public health care, a fact that has been` long ignored by the Indian society. A majority of the unorganized private pharmacies especially in rural areas are run by untrained and non-professionals. This poses significant danger on patient safety and highlights the importance of pharmacists as a core member of the health care team.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is pre-dominantly a generics drug market. The R&D facilities in the country are not yet at par with the Western counterparts. Most of the profitability in the Indian pharmaceutical industries comes from capitalizing on recent patent-expired products as against filing a substantial number of new patents.
Despite the below-par R&D facilities in the country the interest of the Indian pharmaceutical students is highly skewed in favour of industry employment rather than practising pharmacy on their own for the society. However, apart from the pharmaceutical industry-related employment, practising pharmacists are also supposed to cater to the needs of general public and patients. The youth pursuing pharmacy education has to be sensitized towards the country’s inability to maintain adequate standards of patient safety towards health care and drug usage.

Most of the quality education institutions offering pharmacy courses in India are industry oriented. The most talented and quality professionals are drawn towards NIPERS to pursue research oriented jobs in the industry. However India is not yet at par with the developed nations as far as research facilities are concerned.
So the orientation of pharmaceutical education towards industry-employability is definitely not helping the practice of pharmacy profession in India. Worse, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is not justifying the huge influx of India’s top pharmaceutical talent with insignificant R&D outcomes.

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