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Increasing career options for pharmacy graduates

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the fast growing sectors of the Indian economy and has made rapid strides over the years. It ranks among the top-15 drug manufacturing countries in the world. The global output of the Indian industry ranks 4th in terms of volume and 13th in terms of value. This $6 billion (Rs. 27 thousand Crore) Indian Pharmaceutical industry has shown tremendous progress in infrastructure development, technology base and wide range of products. According to the Mckinsey study, Indian Pharma industry is poised to grow to US$ 25 billion (Rs.112.5 thousand crores) by 2010.

Key strengths of the Indian Pharma sector include, a well developed industry with strong manufacturing base, well-established network of laboratories and R&D infrastructure, highly trained pool of scientists and professionals, world-class quality products, strong marketing and distribution network, fast growing health care industry, cost competitiveness, rich biodiversity and a growing biotechnology industry. Increasing number of hospitals, nursing homes and pharmaceuticals companies all over the country also clearly indicate the growing scope in this area.

From being a major importer of bulk drugs and formulations, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has today become a net exporter of pharmaceutical products. Now, Indian pharmaceutical products are being exported to a large number of countries including USA, Canada, Germany, France and Latin American countries. At present, about 23,000 pharmacy companies are operating in India , of which, 260 constitutes organized sector, while others exist in the small-scale sector. Some of the major names include Ranbaxy, Sun Pharma, and Dr. Reddy’s Cipla, Wockhardt Limited, Nicholas Piramal, Aventis, Glaxo Smithkline, Novartis, Dr. Morepen and Pfizer.

Pharmacy offers good career opportunities both by way of jobs as well as in terms of starting your own business.  The job avenues for a pharmacist are with pharmaceutical industry, government departments, universities, investigation and research institutes and armed forces. After the implementation of the patent procedures of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a lot of multinational pharmaceutical companies will come to India for business. There will thus be a great demand for trained people in this field in the coming days

Within the pharmaceutical industry, you might be involved in activities relating to the development, formulation, production or marketing of new drugs for clinical use and drug control administration. Pharma people provide services to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes. A pharmacists job is to prepare, mix, compound or dispense drugs and medicines, ointments, powder, pills, tablets and injections on the prescription of a medical practitioner, dentist or veterinarian.

Pharmacists work in four areas:

Hospital Pharmacists: Here the tasks include procuring, stocking, preparing and dispensing medicines, drugs and other medical accessories. Other responsibilities include budgeting and account-keeping for the dispensary. The pharmacists are expected to meet patients, doctors and nurses to discuss the supply of medicines and the appropriate form of drugs for administration.

Retail Pharmacists: In medical retail stores, the pharmacist prepares and dispenses drugs on prescription to the general consumer. With the growing availability of pre-packaged doses, the pharmacist monitors the drug sale on the basis of prescriptions and dosages. He also advises on the usage of prescribed drugs. In the retail sector, pharmacists run chemist shops.

Medical Representatives: Medical Representatives (MR) also come under Retail Pharmacy. They inform and educate the medical practitioners of the potential uses of the drug or health product and its administration along with side effects or precautions for its use. The job entails regular visits to medical practitioners, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, health centres. The job of an MR involves a lot of touring.

Industrial Pharmacists: While most firms are involved in the production of preformulated preparations, a growing number of firms are developing new formulations through research work. Industrial pharmacists work in research and development to develop new formulations. They carry out clinical trials, where drugs are tested for safety and effectiveness. The production aspect of the job entails management and supervision of the production process, packaging, storage and delivery. They also work in marketing, sales and quality control.

Research Pharmacists: Research pharmacists are engaged in research activities in pharmaceutical firms, organizations and laboratories. They concern themselves with synthesis of new drugs, new processes, clinical testing of the effects of such drugs on animals and humans, and obtaining the required license from the drug control authorities

Pharmacists are hired within the central and state government departments- The Health Protection Branch of the Department of Health and Welfare, The Pest Control Division of Agriculture, The Department of National Defense, Provincial Research Councils, and The Provincial Departments of Agriculture or the Environment.

In government departments, a pharmacist maintains proper records according to various Government acts governing the profession of pharmacy. As a drug inspector or government analyst, s/he is to make sure that the drugs manufactured and sold are of standard quality. 

There are also employment opportunities within the food and cosmetic industries.

The main courses in Pharmacy are the 2 years Diploma in Pharmacy (D.Pharm), 4 years Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm), 2 years Master of Pharmacy (M.Pharm) and Ph.d programmes. For admission to the Diploma in Pharmacy (D.Pharm), one requires to pass 10+2 or equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry, Maths or Biology. At the masters level (M Pharm) specialization is available in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacognosy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Engineering. After that M.Pharm candidates can go for Ph.D programme in Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Marketing & Management.

A diploma or degree holder in Pharmacy, after registering with the State Pharmacy Council, can set up and run their own pharmacy or chemists and druggists shop to stock and sell medicines and dispense them according to doctor’s prescriptions. In retail Pharmacy, the varied duties include buying and selling of related items demanded by the public. M.Pharm or Ph.D holders are normally absorbed in research work to develop new useful drugs in laboratories and in production work in pharmaceutical industry and analyzing them for purity and strength. Pharmacists may also take up teaching profession as lecturers in pharmacy colleges and universities.

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