You might be able to live without food for a few days, but if you are ill and need immediate relief, there’s no other way but to take medicines. This is where pharma studies come in. According to government statistics, over 300 institutions impart diplomas or degrees to nearly 20,000 students in India every year. In this article, Careers360 explores here the scope of pharmacy, and what it takes to make a career in this expanding sector.
The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) control pharmacy education in India. Qualifications at different levels include Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm), Master of Pharmacy (M. Pharm), Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm), Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) and PhD in pharmacy.
Entering the field
Candidates, who have completed their 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry, Maths/Biology (PCM/PCB), are eligible to apply for B. Pharm. Candidates should also secure a minimum of 50 percent in the qualifying examination. In certain states, it is mandatory to give separate entrance examinations for pharmacy admissions. D.Pharm holders are eligible for admission into B.Pharm in the second year directly via lateral entry.
Curriculum of Pharmacy
Pharmacy curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature and it varies from institution to institution. However, a 4-year B.Pharm course in general focuses on organic as well as inorganic aspects of chemistry. Concepts of bio-chemistry, health education and human anatomy are part of the curriculum. B. Pharm teaches the process of turning a chemical into a drug which is called physical pharmaceutics plus pharmaceutical technology. The other components include various sources of drugs pharmacognosy; uses, effect and action of drugs on body (Pharmacology) along with pharmaceutical bio- technology which deals with technologies involved in the manufacturing and registration of biotechnological drug and also pharmaceutical legislation along with pharmacy business management.
M.Pharm students usually need to select one out of ten areas of specializations. They are: Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Analysis, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Pharmacy Practice, Industrial Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance. PCI introduced a six-year programme, Pharm.D in 2008 with a globally standardized syllabus. You can apply for this course with 10+2 qualification.
Where to study Pharmacy?
The top institutes for pursuing pharmaceutical education are National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research – Mohali, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technology Institute of Chemical Technology – Mumbai, University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Panjab University - Chandigarh, Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard – New Delhi, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences – Manipal, JSS College of Pharmacy, Mysore; Jadavpur University, Banaras Hindu University, Birla Institute of Technology.
Scope of Pharmacy
“The Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest pharma industries in the world. This increases the scope of pharma studies in India. Career options are not only available in India, but worldwide. Research and Development is a major area in the pharma industry, where new drug development, formulation development, analysis and toxicological studies are performed. These analysis are done through sophisticated and state-of-the-art machines. For research and development purposes, highly skilled researchers and technicians are in high demand who have M. Pharm or have done their PhD,” says Navjot Kanwar who is doing his Ph.D. from Panjab University.
With the growing pharma industry in India, pharma students have a number of careers options. From hospital pharmacist to community pharmacist and the likes of drug inspector, there are plenty of options to choose from.
“With the increase in the demand for medicines, employment in the pharma industry is also increasing. Teaching is also becoming a favourable option for students after they gain experience in a particular field. Pharmaceutical marketing and sales are among the highest paid jobs in India,” adds Kanwar.
Students easily find employment in hospitals, industry and research labs. In hospitals, private and government, their job entails procurement and stocking, preparation and dispensing of drugs and health accessories. They keep an eye on the use, composition, and effect of drugs and are responsible for advising the medical staff on the selection and the side effects of various medicines. In case of pharmaceutical industries, pharmacists are involved in the formulation and manufacture of drugs. Medical drugs are manufactured on the basis of the research done by the pharmacists.
Focused on making high-quality medications, the pharmaceutical industry is always in a need of motivated and passionate people. “Clinical research associates are the ones who see the efficacy of the medicines in humans by doing various studies in association with medical doctors. Regulatory affairs officers look after how can the product go further in higher phase studies or enter the market. Business or research analysts look after the conditions and the nature of the market by making crucial strategies to launch the drug in the market. Marketing and sales department introduce the new drug to the medical officers for the use in patients. So, this time taking journey is not a journey of a single person. It is a group effort which needs people having different sets of expertise and responsibilities,” says Abhinav Kanwal, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Low cost of production is an attraction
India’s cost of medicine production is nearly 33 percent lower than that of the US. Labour costs are 50–55 percent cheaper than in western countries and the cost of setting up a production plant in India is 40 percent lower. This makes India the largest provider of generic drugs globally with the Indian generics accounting for 20 percent of global exports. With such a positive outlook, getting a pharmaceutical degree appears to be a good choice for good career.