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By Prajith
Pharmacy is the art and science of discovering and preparing medicines and providing drug related information to ensure safe and effective treatment for the patient, either for prevention or for cure.Today, pharmacists advise physicians and work with other healthcare professionals in prescribing medication to maximize health/therapeutic outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that the presence of a pharmacist on hospital rounds as a full member of the patient care team prevented drug errors and reduced costs. The Indian pharmaceutical industry globally ranks at the third position in terms of the volume of medicines produced.

There are pharmacists in a range of roles; there are those involved in research, trying to develop new drugs. To cater to the medical needs of the entire population, the research lab gears up to a large scale, i.e. industrial production. Here there will be industrial pharmacists who perform different roles. They are involved either in the bulk drug industry (API) or in the production of pharmaceutical products (dosage forms). Their activities include handling raw materials, processing in various unit operations, quality control and testing, packaging, marketing and sales. The pharmacists in the drugs control department are involved in framing guidelines, rules, regulation and their implementation. And the most accessible pharmacist is the community pharmacist. Community pharmacy is commonly referred to as chemist at a medical store.

The roles of a pharmacist, therefore, as evident are numerous and so are the career opportunities.

The programmes available for candidates after passing 10+2 in the stream of science are Diploma in pharmacy (D. Pharm.) – 2 year programme, Bachelor of pharmacy (B. Pharm.) – 4 years programme, Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) – 6 years programme, The post graduate programme, M. Pharm (2 years) includes specialized training in various branches of pharmaceutical sciences like Industrial Pharmacy, Pharmaceutics, Medicinal or Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacology, Quality Assurance, Pharmaceutical Analysis, Pharmacognosy, Pharmacy Practice, Drug Regulatory Affairs, etc. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D) programme in pharmacy may be pursued for further education too.

The main objective of D. Pharm. programme is to train students to be efficient in dispensing and retail selling of pharmaceutical products. A diploma holder of Pharmacy is certified to be eligible for setting up a community pharmacy i.e. retail outlets, thus they get the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.

They can also opt for employment as pharmacist in various government and private hospitals. They may get employment as a production/ manufacture chemist, work in pharmaceutical packaging technology, be a medical representative or may opt for higher education (B. Pharm. and M. Pharm., Pharm. D.)

A B. Pharm. graduate may gain employment in the industry in many areas like formulation development, quality assurance, quality control, research and development, production and manufacturing, bulk drug distribution; in regulatory affairs division as drug regulators /administrator, may join a drug testing laboratory, pursue the field of intellectual property rights; may join in academics, in sales / marketing as a management trainee, product executive, product manager and administrative manager; be a retail pharmacist / hospital pharmacist or clinical pharmacist. They may pursue government jobs like drug inspector, drug controller, a scientist in CSIR/ ICMR, Govt. drug analyst, food inspector and work for various regulatory bodies or may opt for higher education like M. Pharm., Pharm. D.). Other opportunities include nuclear pharmacy, forensic pharmacy, armed services and medical transcription.

Job opportunities for M. Pharm. include areas like, formulation development, quality assurance, quality control, drug regulatory affairs, research and development, production and manufacturing, bulk drug distribution manufacturing, or may continue with higher education in India or abroad for doctoral and post-doctoral research. They can join as a research and development consultant, become academicians, can join as clinical pharmacist in hospital settings and work in various fields like, contract research labs and industrial research, govt. laboratory and herbal drug research.

A Doctor of Pharmacy may seek employment as a hospital pharmacist, community pharmacist, clinical pharmacist, join in research and development team, pharmacovigilance team, regulatory affairs, pharmaceutical journalism, Academics, pharmacoeconomics sector, be a correspondence and trainer, be a top level medical representative, may join industry in various posts like research and development manager/supervisor and in departments like pharmacovigilance, clinical trials, scientific writing and clinical data management.
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