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The IMA has opposed the Pharmacy Council of India's (PCI)decision of allowing those receiving Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degree to prefix 'Dr' before their name, saying such "transgressions of entitlement are illegal and illegitimate". The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also written to the Union Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) over the issue stating it is against all such shifts from those who are trained in other streams of the health sector to venture into medical practice.

According to the IMA, such illegitimate conferment cannot become entitlements, just in case if an advocate or an engineer should be called doctor by executive order.

"Such social anarchy only creates confusion in the minds of a common man and the impact it has on the structure of a well-organised society is clearly evident," it said in a statement.

Aspiration in any course needs to be legitimate and appropriate to be recognised. The roles and responsibilities of nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and others in the field of healthcare are irreplaceable and are as per their entitlement, the statement stated.

"Bridge courses and illegitimate conferment of the title of 'Dr' are two faces of the same issue which defines the sole purpose of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). This year, the cut-off marks in the NEET for government seats were 497 out of 700, wherein most of the students, settled for non-medical courses.

"A pharmacist by any other name will remain a pharmacist. Indirect entitlement to the practice of modern medicine on human beings by coloured exercise of power by bodies created for a limited purpose is unacceptable. Transgressions of entitlement are illegal and illegitimate," Dr Santanu Sen, National President of the IMA.

The IMA referred to rules, regulations governing the practice of modern medicine and several verdicts which clearly held that only a person holding registration with the Medical Council of India or the state Medical Councils is entitled to practice Modern System of Medicine.

As per several judgments and rulings, pharmacists cannot use prefix "Dr" to their name, they can work only under medical supervision and in any case cannot be the first contact person for an illness, Sen said.

"The IMA has the duty and privilege to defend the rights of medical graduates. The IMA demands that the government of India use its authority and settle the issue as per the law of the land. The IMA also urges the Pharmacy Council to take back the unlawful order," said R V Asokan, Secretary general, IMA. PLB KJ.

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