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Make a living with the right prescription

CAREER

Pharmacy professionals in research, development, marketing and retailing have a plethora of job profiles to choose from, writes Sandhya Prakash

Pharmacy is related to Health Sciences. It is the profession that is responsible for the preparation, dispensing and appropriate use of medication, to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes. Pharmacists study the chemistry of drugs, their origin, procedures for drug development, preparation, dispensing, effects and the eventual use for prevention and treatment of disease.

The healthcare industry has witnessed a boom in the recent years with rising affluence and improving standards of living. This growth in the healthcare industry is likely to continue in to the future with newer, more efficient treatment modalities that are being researched and invented for the growing healthcare market.

This entails the need for  pharmacy professionals at all levels, right from research and development to marketing and retailing. There is also scope to grow and diversify within this field as there are plenty of  related fields. The industry’s job prospects and growth potential  make it a great career option with immense scope for growth and creating value.


Personality traits

Pharmacists must have a scientific bent of mind and should be genuinely interested in medicine. Pharmacists in research and industries should have excellent academic potential. An ability to work methodically, carefully and accurately is necessary in hospitals, stores, laboratories and shop floors. A sympathetic attitude, caring mannerisms and a friendly disposition are required for dealing with patients.

Study route

The main courses in Pharmacy are the two-year Diploma in Pharmacy (D Pharm), 4 four-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (B Pharm), two-year Masters in Pharmacy (M Pharm) and PhD programmes.

Admission to a Diploma in Pharmacy (D Pharm) requires a pass in 10+2 or equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry, Maths or Biology.

Candidates who possess a  10+2 pass certificate in Physics, Chemistry, Maths (PCM) or Physics, Chemistry, Biology (PCB) or Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Biology are admitted to a four-year Bachelor’s programme (Bachelor of Pharmacy or B Pharm). At the undergraduate level, there is no specialisation.

Admission to M Pharm is through GPAT. The Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) is conducted under the aegis of National Monitoring Committee, All India Council for Technical Education, New Delhi, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, as per AICTE norms.

Undergraduate degree holders in Pharmacy (4 years after 10+2, including lateral entry candidates) and those in the final year of a B Pharmacy course are eligible for the GPAT Examination.  (website: www.gpat.in)

At the Master’s level (M Pharm), candidates can specialise in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacognosy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Engineering, etc. Other suitable higher-study options for pharmacy graduates include Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Clinical Research, postgraduate programmes or an MBA degree.

The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) recently decided to introduce Pharm D (six years, eligibility-PUC/+2), Pharm D (Post Baccalaureate) (three years, eligibility:B Pharm) courses. The curriculum for these courses will be tuned to match courses at the international level, especially those that are offered in the United States of America.

With the introduction of Pharm D, many Indian students can now pursue a more promising career in this line of work.  Also, a Pharm D will be recognised the world over and graduates can find work with various pharmaceutical companies abroad. The new course will mainly be a clinically-oriented one.

Those opting for the new course would have to study five years of Pharmacy in the college and attend a full-time internship programme in a hospital in the sixth year, very much like medical students. The introduction of these programmes with greater emphasis on clinical practice in line with the changes in the healthcare environment will not only open doors for new employment opportunities for the pharmacists in hospitals , community pharmacy and clinical practice, but will also maximise the pharmacists’ contribution in pharmaceutical and patient healthcare.

Since these programmes will be on par with global standards, Indian pharmacists will have the opportunity to work in the international pharmacy market.

Roles & responsibilities

Teaching  B Pharm: Graduates with a first class are eligible to teach the D Pharm programme as lecturers, whereas M Pharm, first class students can get a lecturer’s job in Pharmacy degree colleges.  It takes five years to reach the grade of Senior Lecturer, 10 years to become an Assistant Professor, and 12 years to become Professor or a Principal of a college. While they gain experience in teaching, students can pursue research in the pharmaceutical field and strive to become a Research Scientist.

Pharmacist: Being in the health-related field, a B Pharm graduate can become a Health-System Pharmacist or Hospital Pharmacist or Community Pharmacist.

Quality Assurance Health Manager: A Pharmacy graduate can play an important role in the development of clinical care plans, can investigate adverse medication events, and in some cases, can suggest preventive measures. He/she can play a key role in spreading awareness about AIDS and  preventive measures.

Medical Transcription: A B Pharm graduate can work with medical practitioners to maintain patient treatment history, the drug to which he/she is allergic, etc.

Analytical Chemist or Quality Control Manager: A Pharma graduate can play a crucial role in controlling product quality. The Drug and the Cosmetics Act (1945), Rules 71(1) and 76(1) says that the manufacturing activity should be taken up under the supervision of a technical man whose qualification should be B Pharm, BSc, B Tech or MBBS with Bio-Chemistry.

Sales and Marketing: Ambitious achievers with a pleasant personality and good communication skills can opt for the role of a medical sales representative. Companies and hospitals prefer pharmacy graduates for this job, as they have a strong knowledge about drug composition, its therapeutic effects and drug-drug interactions.

Clinical Research:  B Pharm/ M Pharm degree holders can take up work in clinical research. The human testing phase is called a clinical trial. A pharmacist can work as a Clinical Research Associate or Clinical Pharmacist and can rise to the position of Project Manager.

A Clinical Research Associate plays the important role of monitoring and overseeing the conduct of clinical trials on human volunteers. Their job is to ensure the trials meet international guidelines and national regulatory requirements.
Data Manager: A pharmacist can seek employment as Data Manager to store data and process it using softwares developed solely for this purpose.

Regulatory Manager: A Pharmacy graduate can work as Regulatory Manager (RM) in companies and contract research organisations.

As an RM, he/she has to oversee regulatory documentation such as clinical trial approval permission, marketing approval permission etc.

Regulatory Bodies: A pharmacist can be absorbed into regulatory bodies like Food and Drug Administration. Pharmacists with experience in clinical trial centres can also work as an Inspector to inspect the clinical trial process. For these government jobs, the student needs to appear and pass the MPSC examination.

Job prospects

Registered pharmacists work in health centres, hospitals and medical dispensing stores, in pharmaceutical industry, in  manufacturing, analytical and research and development divisions. They can also find work  in the drug control administration as Drug Inspector, Analytical Chemist, in the customs office, as experts on drugs and pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Supplies and Rehabilitation as Assistant Director of Supplies, medical representatives and executives in the sales division with pharmaceuticals.

A number of multinational companies like Hoechst, E Merck and Smith-Kline Beecham are collaborating with leading Indian companies as well as government labs, thus offering many job options for qualified professionals.

Most large pharmaceutical firms have research divisions that require skilled manpower. Fresh postgraduates and     PhD holders are recruited as Analytical Research Scientists/Associates or as Product Development Research Associates.

The Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) Lucknow; National Chemical Laboratory, Pune; Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad  employ researchers.

Drug and pharmaceutical firms employ graduates, postgraduates and doctorates with a background in pharmaceuticals as management trainees for their production units, operations, as well as for quality control and quality certification. With adequate experience, professionals can rise to senior positions in no time!
A few leading institutes in India that offer various undergraduate and postgraduate courses include:

*NIPER, Mohali
*University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University
*Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal
*Bombay College of Pharmacy, Kalina, Mumbai
*JSS College of Pharmacy, Ooty
* University College of Pharmaceutical Science, Kakatiya University, Warangal
*LM College of Pharmacy, Ahmedabad
*Department of Pharmaceutical Science, Dr. H.S. Gour University, Sagar, MP
*Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai (erstwhile UDCT)
*Pharmacy Group, BITS, Pilani
*Department of Pharmaceutical Engineering, IT-BHU
*Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, BIT Mesra, Ranchi
*JSS College of Pharmacy, Mysore
*Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR), Delhi
*Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore

 

 

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