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In the wake of the recent ban of 344 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs by the government, Pharm D interns of a pharmacy college in Kerala are planning to start free Drug Counselling Centres (DCC) to provide information about the banned products and their available alternatives to the patients, general public, community pharmacists and even to doctors.

The DCCs will operate in key centres and counselling will be given by Pharm D graduates who have completed their course and post-course training. Further to this, facilities for online and tele-counselling (OTC) will also be available for 24 hours. The system will take in another one week time. The centres will seek the help of the state drugs control officials for more information and advice, sources informed.

The initiative of the student-pharmacists gets relevance as, besides to the present FDC ban, the Pharmacy Practice Regulation 2015 introduced by Pharmacy Council of India puts the suggestion that the qualified and registered pharmacists can independently start self-practice in pharmacy by opening drug counselling centres/information centres.

The present DDC by the Pharm D holders has the support from their college department staff and other students of pharmacy. For the time being, the counselling centre will concentrate only on disseminating information on the banned products, however, gradually it will switch over to a full-fledged drug information centre giving awareness to all kinds of pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

Briefing Pharmabiz about the initiative, a senior Pharm D graduate said since a large number of combination drugs are in the market with various brands, most of the working pharmacists and even the prescribers may not know all the products and their names. Our members will be sitting before the computer with the list of products banned and their available alternatives. We will also direct the patients to the shops where the alternatives are available. In addition to this, we will share information about the adverse reactions and side effects of the drug with the patients or with those approach us, he said.

“At present mainly we are concentrating on information about the banned FDC products and to wipe out the anxieties of the consumers and the general public. The government has prohibited manufacture and sale of 344 combination drugs which were found irrational and having side effects in use. All of the banned drugs have been in use till date, so naturally the patients will get a lot of suspicion which may lead to anxiety. Our aim is to give awareness to those patients who are consuming the combination drugs. This is part of pharmaceutical care from our side,” said Augustine Xavier, a Pharm D graduate from north Kerala.

Last year the same group of Pharm D students had held a counselling-cum-clinical pharmacy programme named ‘Prescription Adalat’ in a village. The programme could help the patients acquire knowledge about medicines, their usage, adverse reactions and specific prescription for particular medical condition. Further, it could redress several drugs related problems and address many health related concerns of the rural folk.
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