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The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) perceives that the Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 would transform the community pharmacist's role in the Indian healthcare space. The regulation mandates B Pharm as the minimum qualification for a candidate to be employed as a pharmacist in chemists and druggist outlets and even pharmacy counters at hospitals.

The two-year bridge course referred to as the Bachelor Degree In Pharmacy Practice (B Pharm Practice) designed by PCI to upgrade the qualified Diploma in Pharmacy (D Pharm) candidates is scheduled to take-off in the academic year 2016. Globalisation and new medication practices sees the need to upgrade the qualification, Dr T V Narayana, chairman-education division, Indian Pharmaceutical Association, told Pharmabiz.

The Gazette notified PPR 2015 which is under effective implementation in the country will change the entire complexion of pharmacy trade practices. India accounts for 8 lakh registered pharmacists armed with D Pharm. This course material is outdated to the present working environment as it is designed with insignificant clinical content to mould a student to the level of a thoroughly trained entry level pharmacist. “Now the bridge course will help increase the knowledge level of diploma holders through theory and practical training. The trade and healthcare sector will have access to better qualified pharmacist resource pool,” he added.

The roles and responsibilities of pharmacists are also framed under the PPR 2015. “At the 67th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress event scheduled to be held at Mysuru from December 19 to 21, 2015, we would see the hurdles cleared for advances in pharmacy education. Essentially PCI has taken on the onus to equip the diploma holders through this bridge course which will provide them an insight into industry and community pharmacy. It would infuse technical and managerial knowhow into the pharmacy trade workforce, said Dr. Narayana, who is also secretary, Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association.

The existing pharmacy colleges in the country can gear up to seek permission from PCI to start the course. Since a significant chunk of the candidates applying for the same are already employed, PCI has conceived the curriculum for training candidates to be a weekend course spanning for 10 hours.

In the absence of skill development for D Pharm candidates, Indian pharmacy trade is bound to face the threat. By enhancing the knowledge of these candidates to B Pharm level, which is now recognised as the basic qualification for practicing pharmacists, this 24 month comprehensive bridge course will provide a promising future. It will see an increase in the registrations of pharmacists with state pharmacy councils across India, said Dr Narayana, who is a former member, PCI.
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