The Maharashtra government’s decision to create a post of ‘clinical pharmacist’ in government hospitals comes after a delegation from the National Union of Doctors of Pharmacy (NDPU), representing Pharm D professionals in the country, met with Tanaji Sawant, Maharashtra’s Minister for Public Health and Family Welfare and urged him to establish clinical pharmacist positions in government hospitals as per PPR (Amendment) 2021. The minister reportedly assured the headed delegation by the NDPU National Chairman, Dr. Ramprasad Kakasaheb Nagare, to issue a notification to create clinical pharmacist positions in hospitals and invite applications from Pharm D graduates to fill vacant clinical pharmacist positions in the coming months. The minister reportedly assured that the recruitment process would start in the state at the earliest.
It is a fact that PCI introduced the Pharm D program to the country to much fanfare in 2008 with the primary objective of imparting the training and skills necessary to undertake the practice of pharmacy in the area of patient care. Currently, other degree courses in pharmacy have industrial orientations. The growing need for specialized knowledge in drug prescribing ability, expertise in adverse drug reactions and knowledge in counseling patients in the community is the future opportunity of the new careers of the pharmacist.
The Pharm D program combines rigorous basic scientific training with broad and varied clinical experiences so that graduates are prepared to help revolutionize the future of healthcare through new discoveries and innovations in skin diseases and venereal diseases to improve the lives of patients. The program was designed to produce clinically competent pharmacists who can assume expanded responsibilities in patient care and provide rational drug therapy. The government introduced this 6-year course as the role of a pharmacist has undergone major changes worldwide as a result of notable advances in pharmaceutical science and education.
The pharmacist is an essential link in the doctor-patient chain and is expected to play a key role in the dissemination of pharmaceutical knowledge. In India, although the pharmaceutical industry has progressed over the past three decades, the pharmacist continues to be a salesperson in a retail pharmacy. The Pharm D was introduced in such a context to change this image by raising the standards of pharmacy education to produce world-class pharmacists. Currently, more than 230 colleges offer the Pharm D program, and the number of graduates is increasing every year.
But, job prospects are scarce as the government has not created a cadre for them, though they come under the cadre of clinical pharmacists. It is in this context that the PCI introduced the Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2021 by amending the PPR 2015 on June 30, 2021 notifying Pharm D as a basic qualification for the position of clinical pharmacist. By this amendment, the employment relationship of a clinical pharmacist has been defined in which the qualification criteria, the scope and complexity of the work as well as the duties and responsibilities of the clinical pharmacist have been mentioned. Even though it has been more than a year since the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) notified the position of Clinical Pharmacist (CP) with Pharm D as the basic qualification, the Union Health Ministry has yet to come up with a framework legal permitting states and union territories to create CP positions in healthcare settings.
It is a shame that the euphoria created by this course is fading as Pharm D graduates find it difficult to find suitable employment after studying for six long years. Countries like USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland and even Ethiopia have recognized reputable courses like Pharm D and clinical pharmacists are an integral part of the system of health and work effectively with doctors and nurses. It is ironic that although the government has introduced Pharm D to create world class pharmacists, it is not utilizing their services properly. The Maharashtra government has taken the initiative. Now, other states are expected to follow Maharashtra in creating a “Clinical Pharmacist” position for Pharm D graduates.
(The author is independent
journalist with varied backgrounds
in different domains)