INDIA & Pharmacy Practice

India in relation to Pharmacy Practice

Pharmaceutical science and technology had made commendable progress during the last 50

years worldwide leading to a dramatic change in the role of the pharmacist in the developed

world. Traditionally, pharmacists have compounded and dispensed medications on the orders

of physicians. More recently, pharmacy practice has come to include other services related to

patient care including clinical practice, medication review, and drug information. Pharmacy practice is a collection of curative, preventive, rehabilitative and promotive services and in addition, it has a social and economic endeavor encompassing activities by providers, consumers, financers and government within their respective value systems.

The other areas in the wide spectrum of pharmacy profession include teaching & training, regulatory,

roles in industry and research. Indian economy is treading on a high growth path and India is poised to become third largest economy by 2025 with sustained growth of around 8 – 10% per annum. India has a leadership role amongst the developing economies of the world and linked with globalization and the WTO. Tremendous opportunities are likely to be thrown up with pharmacy and healthcare

sectors being one of the sunrise areas. These emerging opportunities have prompted deeper look into the human resources for the pharmacy sector. This will have its impact on the demand for healthcare coupled with the aspirations and expectations of her people.

Pharmacists represent the third largest healthcare professional group in the world. The

majority of pharmacists practice in community pharmacies, hospitals and other medical

facilities. Smaller numbers of pharmacists are employed in the pharmaceutical industry3.

Pharmacy is a transitional field between health sciences and chemical sciences and a

profession charged with ensuring the safe use of medication. Pharmacists are the experts in

medications within the health care team and their education and training is directed to

delivering quality drug therapy to their patients.

Pharmaceutical service is a sub-system of healthcare which continuously helps to combat

death, disease, disability, dissatisfaction and social disruption. A large section of the

community interacts with the pharmacies/ drug stores and the pharmacists for healthcare

necessities, products and advice.


The pharmacist’s profession has existed in some form or the other since times immemorial

and always attempted to enhance quality of life, health, longevity and the prevention and cure

of diseases. The existence of pharmacists is known since the earliest traditional system of

medicine in India which is Ayurveda and Siddha. The Unani Medicine came from West Asia

and the European colonizers brought with them the western form of medicine called allopathic

or modern.

During the nineteenth century there were subordinate classes of hospital assistants and

apothecaries who performed medico-pharmaceutics functions. These European chemists and

druggists proved to be successful “businessmen” and added other profitable lines to their

businesses such as general merchandise leading to the perception of pharmacists as

“shopkeeper” or merchant and this image persists to date.

The pharmacy sector and especially pharmacy practice during pre independence era was

highly unregulated and full of malpractices. There was a big outcry regarding the prevailing

situation which prompted the then government to constitute Drugs Enquiry Committee 1930-

-31. It was only in 1940 that the first Drugs Act was enacted and in 1948 finally the

comprehensive pharmacy act came into being.

The pharmacy profession in India has come a long way from colonial past to the present day

which is full of contrast. On one side is the pharmaceutical industry which is of global

standards and on the other side pharmacy practice has remained behind time. The public in general is not aware that a pharmacist is a competent professional and this is possibly due to

a lack of initiative shown by the regulatory system, educational institutions and the


Policies and Regulations

Pharmacy education, profession and practice in India are regulated by the Pharmacy Act

1948. Under the act, a person fulfilling the prescribed eligibility criteria has to get registered

with the state pharmacy council in order to practice pharmacy. The Pharmacy Council of India

(PCI) is a main regulatory body formed under the Pharmacy Act to implement its provisions.

The act also mandates the constitution of State Pharmacy Councils for the purpose of

registration of pharmacists and regulation of pharmacy practice. The act provide authority to

the state pharmacy council to inspect any premises where drugs are compounded or

dispensed, enquire whether a person who is engaged in compounding or dispensing of drugs

is a registered pharmacist and institute prosecution under the order of the Executive

Committee of the State Council. (for details see appendix B)

For the purpose of regulating pharmacy education under the Pharmacy Act, the first Education

Regulation was framed in 1953 and amended in 1972 and 1981. Currently the Education

Regulation 1991 is in force which regulates diploma course in pharmacy. The Education

Regulation 1991 has defined minimum qualification for admission in diploma course and

curriculum for the same. The pharmacy council of India provides approval and regulates

diploma (D Pharma) & degree (B Pharma) courses.

Pharmacy education is also regulated by the All India Council for Technical Education

(AICTE) which has been established under the AICTE Act 1987. The AICTE focuses on

maintaining norms and standards in technical education which also include pharmacy. It

regulates the degree, post graduate and other higher level courses. However an educational

institution imparting pharmacy training needs to be recognized and approved by the PCI for

the qualifications to be accepted for registration as a pharmacist.

Besides the pharmacy act, pharmacy practice is also governed by Drugs and Cosmetics Act

1940 together with Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945 (framed under the act). The act

regulates the import, manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs.

The practitioners of Indian system of medicine and homeopathy together called AYUSH,

roughly equals the number of allopathic practitioners in the country. These practitioners are

also the drug dispenser and in some cases engaged in compounding. In order to regulate the

profession and practice of pharmacy under these schools of medicines, the government has

introduced the Indian Medicine and Homeopathy Pharmacy Bill 2005 in the parliament.

Once passed by the parliament, the bill will become an act. This act will lead to constitution of

pharmacy council for AYUSH similar to PCI.

Currently, the focus and priorities of the government in the health sector is governed by the

National Health Policy 2002 (NHP). Pharmacy being an important component of the health

sector is also governed by the national health policy. The main objective of this policy is to

achieve an acceptable standard of good health amongst the general population of the country.

The policy gives overriding importance to ensuring a more equitable access to health services

across the social and geographical expanse of the country. The policy also emphasizes on

rational use of drugs within the allopathic system. The policy does not explicitly state the role

of pharmacists in achieving the policy objectives, however pharmacist as a part of the

healthcare team have an important role to achieve the policy goals. In order to bridge the gap

in availability of doctors in rural areas, the policy suggests that some of the public health

functions be taken up by the existing healthcare personnel in those areas. Pharmacists would

be ideally suited to undertake this expanded role because of their training in drug therapy.

More recently, the Government of India has launched the National Rural Health Mission

(NRHM) in 2005 to carry out necessary architectural correction in the basic health care

delivery system. The National Rural Health Mission (2005-12) seeks to provide effective

healthcare to rural population throughout the country with special focus on 18 states, which

have weak public health indicators and/or weak infrastructure. Some of the core strategies of

NRHM include strengthening of public health infrastructure as per the Indian Public Health

Standard (IPHS) and formulation of transparent policies for deployment and career

development of Human Resources for health. The mission’s emphasis on filling up all

positions as per IPHS will lead to employment opportunities for the pharmacists.

National pharmaceutical Policy 2002 & draft policy 2006 are the only policies having

bearing on the human resources in the pharmacy sector especially those in industrial

pharmacy. The pharmaceutical policy emphasizes on strengthening production capabilities,

quality assurance and encouraging research & development in pharmaceutical industry.

These policies are likely to increase employment opportunities for pharmacists. Further the

policy also emphasizes on the role of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and

Research (NIPER) in upgrading the standards of pharmacy education and R&D and plans to

open more such institutions.

There is no specific policy for promoting the role of pharmacists in the Indian healthcare

system. While the health related policies are governed by the ministry of health & family

welfare, policies related to drugs and pharmaceutical industry are placed under the ministry of

chemical & fertilizer.

September 10, 2010

3 responses on "INDIA & Pharmacy Practice"

  1. Awesome article about the pharmacy practice.

    greativity in writing, i came here by google. I bookmarked the home page of site for next visit.

    thanks for such article.

  2. hey buddy,this is one of the best posts that I’ve ever observed; you might include some more suggestions in the same theme. I’m still waiting for some fascinating thoughts from your aspect inside your next post.

  3. Your post dealing with current scenario of Pharmacy Practice & India is indeed beneficial. I’m glad you brought this up, since I was having a bit of a problem understanding these studies but now i devleoped some concept. I like your post & would like to share with my friends. Use of certain relevent datas may increase the potency of words in the post.

    Jilesh Gaur

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