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By Prajith
The most accessible healthcare professionals ina community are pharmacists who are trained to assess and address a patient’s health needs. In fact, many visit pharmacies more regularly than even a doctor.

Hence, pharmacies should maintain impeccable standards of quality and safety. The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has prescribed standards that should be met by the pharmacies. Pharmacists bridge the health disparities gap between a physician and a patient. PCI has stated that any drug from a pharmacy can be dispensed only by a pharmacist. “Each and every drug has its own specifications on intake and storage methods. It is the pharmacist who is solely responsible for explaining these specifications to the patients. For this, the presence of pharmacists should be strictly regulated. For an eight-hour pharmacy, there should be one pharmacist and for a pharmacy that functions for more than eight hours, a minimum of two pharmacists should be appointed,” says V. Sankar, vice- principal, PSG College of Pharmacy.

To avoid drug interaction and adverse side effects, strict regulation on dispense of the drugs is needed. Moreover, treatment of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperthyroid demand special counselling on the intake of medicines, which highly differs from one person to the other (which is highly individual specific). Pharmacists cannot work independently. Regulations allow pharmacies to conduct various tests and present reports to a physician but they do not have the authority to prescribe medicines based on their test results.

Another concern is the misuse of the prescription slip. In developed countries, prescription slips come with validity and with a maximum number of refills allowed for that particular slip, within the validity period.

Dr. Shankar says, “A system to regulate the validity and refilling of medicines based on prescription is not found in India. This is the major reason why drugs are misused to a very large extent. Strict regulation on prescription is feasible only by an integrated software application. This will help in the maintenance of a database with patient’s prescription slip and earlier purchase records.”

The regulation of the pharmacy and cosmetics in the city comes under the supervision of the Assistant Director of Drugs Control. “We constantly have an eye over the functioning of the pharmacies and we invariably visit all pharmacies in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode and The Nilgiris, at least once in a year,” says an official.

The validity of a pharmacy licence is five years and at the time of renewal, the pharmacy will be re-checked on the prescribed criteria. “With a large number of pharmacists getting into the field every year from well-established pharmaceutical institutions, there is a drop in the number of violation cases in the recent past,” the official adds.
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