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Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The issue of prefixing of 'Dr' tag before the names of the Pharm D graduates has periodically been hitting the headlines for the last some years without any lasting solution to the issue. As the issue lingered on, the Pharm D graduates have recently sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention for implementation of their demands which include maintenance of separate register for Pharm D containing their names with ‘Dr’ prefix, issuance of ‘registered clinical pharmacy practitioner’ certificate to Pharm D pass-outs, starting centralized Pharm D admission process, introducing amendment to the Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 to enable creation of pharmacovigilance centres and pharmacovigilance associate posts for Pharm D graduates in all government and private hospitals. To buttress their demand for a separate register for Pharm D pass-outs and issuance of clinical pharmacy practitioner certificate to Pharm D pass-outs bearing ‘Dr’ prefix, the Pharm D graduates argue that since Pharm D is a doctoral programme, the nomenclature of their services should be registered clinical pharmacy practitioners instead of registered pharmacist. They further demand that the country’s pharmacy education regulator PCI should circulate an order directing all state pharmacy councils to maintain a separate register for Pharm D graduates, to be registered as registered clinical pharmacy practitioners. PCI should direct all state pharmacy councils to enter the names of the Pharm D holder into the register-roll with ‘Dr’ prefix and issue a certificate as registered clinical pharmacy practitioner.

It is not that the PCI did not do anything on the issue. In fact, prefixing Dr before the names of Pharm D passed out students is a decision taken by the PCI way back in 2012 when the first batch of the Pharm D course came out. The council had earlier intimated its decision to all the universities approved by the PCI under Section 12 (2) of the Pharmacy Act 1948 to conduct examinations for Pharm D to use the prefix Dr before the names of passed out students while awarding certificates under Regulation 18 of the Pharm D Regulations 2008. In fact, the PCI had earlier written to all the private and government universities about its decision, but only some private varsities have been following it as there was stiff opposition from the medical fraternity in the country. The Indian Medical Association argues that as per the judgments and rulings of the apex court, the pharmacists cannot use ‘Dr’ prefix with their names. There are different streams in the healthcare system like medical stream, nursing stream, pharmacy stream and physiotherapy stream. The IMA contends that the students of Pharm D are coming through the pharmacy stream and not through the medical stream and only professionals of the medical stream are eligible to use the prefix 'Dr' before their names. The IMA has also stated that PCI does not have the mandate to direct the universities to use the word ‘Doctoral’ in the nomenclature of the programme or to advise the varsities to write ‘Dr’ prefix before the names of the Pharm D graduates. As the issue lingers on, there seems to be some merit in the arguments of IMA as there cannot be the same tag for both the medical and Pharm D graduates. It is desirable that there should be some change in the tag for Pharm D graduates to distinguish them from the medical doctors. It will also go a long way in avoiding confusion among the common man.


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