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B. Pharm new syllabus: A new dimensional solution to age old problem

Shrishailappa Badami, Padmaxi Bailpattar & N. Udupa
Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Recently, Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has announced subjects for a new syllabus of B. Pharm course and asked for suggestions to implement the same. The PCI has responded well for the requirements of pharmacy profession and a well-thought, planned, balanced and development oriented subjects for preparing the syllabus is announced. This paper provides suggestions for its further improvement and the pros and cons of the same.

Being the largest provider of generic drugs globally, India is the future pharmacy of the world and the pharmacy market of the globe. Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines, 40 per cent of generic drug demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicine in the UK. Globally, India ranks 3rd in terms of pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value. The domestic pharmaceutical industry includes a network of 3,000 drug companies and about 10,500 manufacturing units. The country also has a large pool of scientists and engineers with the potential to steer the industry ahead to greater heights. Presently, over 80 per cent of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

To support the growing pharmaceutical industry and the hospital sector, it is our duty to educate the students well. Pharmacy graduates are in great demand for opening of medical shops, pharmaceutical marketing, pharma industries, hospitals, and research & development activities. Indian hospitals are now competing with the global ones and creating large avenues for pharmacists. Keeping all these in mind and to make all the stakeholders happy, it is an uphill task to change the syllabus suitably. But, Pharmacy Council of India has done a better work and suggested best syllabus for B. Pharm. There is lot of scope for changes and since individual chapters and experiments are not given, it is the need of the hour to suggest these to Pharmacy Council of India for implementation.

    1. A large number of new subjects are included without affecting the students.
    2. Redundant, duplicate subjects are mostly eliminated.
    3. Practical orientation, tutorials, project works, industry and hospital exposure and choice of subjects from a large list of electives is provided, so that at the end of the course, the student will know what his goal is and how to move forward?
    4. Introduction to pharmacy, drug discovery process and seminars in careers in pharmacy subjects in the first semester introduces the student to all aspects of pharmacy and helps him to fix his goal in advance.
    5. The subject, traditional medicine helps the students to understand how drugs were developed in olden days and hence provides a link between modern and old medicines.

    1. The present teachers have to strive hard to teach a variety of subjects especially the electives and without proper training it may be a difficult task. Hence, Pharmacy Council of India shall support training programmes for teachers to handle these subjects.
    2. The industry and hospital visits may become an eye wash and strict vigilance and implementation is needed.
    3. Provision shall be provided for group experiments or project.
    4. Many industry oriented elective subjects like pharmaceutical packaging, pharmaceutical and food preservation, bulk drugs and allied formulations such as foods, paints, house hold items like soaps, cleaning products, perfumes, etc., could have been included.
    5. Pharmacy should be taught by industrial experts and the syllabus shall include 50 per cent subjects taught by them. The exposure helps the student future. The colleges shall not be a mere degree providing buildings. The students should able to work in industries on a regular basis from day 1 and not after a few months or years training in industry. Proper training helps the students in this direction and they can bargain high package in industries like engineers. The colleges shall produce entrepreneurs who can start their start-ups after B. Pharm.

The following are the suggestions for a few subjects. The syllabus makers shall go through the same, discuss and implement the same in the broader interest of the students and profession.

General suggestions
About 80 per cent of the syllabus shall be provided by the Pharmacy Council of India in each subject (4 units). The fifth unit syllabus preparation shall be left to individual universities. So that universities with their experts can have freedom and latest knowledge can be included without waiting for Pharmacy Council of India nod.
Experiments for all the subjects shall be designed in such a way that learning is more important than mere completion of the same in 3 hours. Hence, examination oriented 3/4 hour duration practical shall be avoided.
Students shall be taught the importance of keeping our earth less polluted and the effects of wastage of chemicals, prepared products, preference of soft copies instead of hard ones, saving of electricity, water, equipment time, etc.

Industry and academia interaction was more discussed in every meeting of pharmacy professionals from several decades, but much progress is not achieved. If the college is attached to a pharmaceutical industry, though a small scale, both the college and industry will flourish due to
    a)  Manpower available from students and teachers.
    b)  Availability of modern equipment both manufacturing and analysis in the industry can be utilized and hence, duplication of purchase is avoided.
    c)  More revenue is generated and the pharmacy colleges will be self-sustained.
    d)  The students can interact with industry staff members and learn the practical aspects better.
    e)  Creation of manufacturing environment helps the staff and students to feel better in serving the society.
    f) The local people get more jobs and benefit the general public as drug costs are reduced due to local manufacture and supply. It will also avoid dependency of drugs on MNCs and large industries.
    g)  It helps in the national ranking of the colleges.

To start B Pharm (Practice) or Pharm D, Pharmacy Council of India asks the managements to show an attached hospital. In a similar way, PCI shall make attachment of a MSME pharma industry to a pharmacy college mandatory for running a B Pharm course. The present established colleges and new colleges may be a given a grace period of five years to establish the same.

Pharmacy Council of India shall make it mandatory to organize a fixed number of workshops, seminars, exhibitions, conferences per year by pharmacy colleges separately and in collaboration with industry and hospitals.

Pharmacy is the second largest job provider in India after IT. However, our pharmacy college campuses are very small when compared to engineering or medical colleges. This is due to the presence of only one undergraduate course, B. Pharm. Unless number of courses are increased, there will not be further improvement. Pharmacy Council of India has done well in starting B. Pharm (Practice) as another undergraduate and Pharm D as both undergraduate and postgraduate course in pharmacy colleges, which helped in creation of new job opportunities.

Engineering graduates get employment immediately after B.E., and bargain for higher salary package, which is not the case for B. Pharm. To uplift the industry in a still better way, increase the employability of our B. Pharm students and in the lines of B. Pharm (Practice), it is time now to start four new industry oriented B. Pharm (pharmaceutics, pharm chemistry, pharmacology and pharmacognosy) courses with an intake of 30 candidates in colleges where PG courses are already available. The first two years shall cover all basic subjects and in 3rd and 4th year, branch subjects shall be taught. Such courses are already existed in developed nations since 1990s and one of us (Dr SB) proposed the implementation of the same through a publication two decades back. As a next step, Pharmacy Council of India shall involve in this activity, so that colleges expand and contribute to the society better. The present B. Pharm shall also be continued as it gives a vast scope for students and for the survival of small colleges.

Specific suggestions
Semester 1
Introduction to pharmacy shall cover the basics of all the subjects taught in the course.
Drug discovery process, new subject with both theory and practical might have been included with an orientation towards pharmaceutical chemistry. However, without the basic knowledge, it may be difficult for the beginners to understand the receptors, binding, complex ions, etc., which are involved in the process and to carry out the practical is still a bigger task. Hence, the subject may be shifted to Semester 7 or 8.

Semester 2
Pharmaceutical Chemistry practical shall include time consuming experiments as limit tests for chlorides and sulphates and standardization are consuming less than 30 min to complete. Otherwise, such experiments can be clubbed in a single practical or instead of single sample analysis, 3-4 different type of samples can be given in a single practical of limit test or standardization. A large number of examples are available in Indian Pharmacopoeia, and utilizing the same the practical can be made interesting and challenging, instead of mere following of procedures.
Herbal drugs and traditional medicines practical shall include collection of traditional medicine data from the local practitioners of the nearby villages of the native place of students. This data shall be formulated, standardized and validated by them in the Semester 4 of traditional medicines practical.

Visit to pharmaceutical industry will be mostly an eye wash, instead, the industries shall be motivated to conduct two days hands on experience workshops in different branches for students. For examples tablets, capsules, injectable, marketing, analysis, etc. The students shall compulsorily attend to a fixed number of such workshops organized jointly by the college and the industry in the industry premises.

Semester 3  
Pharmaceutical Biochemistry and Clinical Pathology practical shall include all the diagnostic tests carried out in a diagnostic laboratory of a medical college.

Importance shall not be given to urine tests, out dated titrimetric analysis of sugar, etc. If possible, the student shall be sent to different diagnostic laboratories in batches during the practical hours instead of attending the practical in the college. Such diversion from routine helps the creative minds of students to progress.

Pharmaceutical engineering practical shall give more emphasis on working of machines, testing of machines (output, etc.) and their repair. The students shall also be encouraged to develop new models and patenting the same.

Hospital and community pharmacy visits again may become an eye wash and hence, instead, the students shall attend 3 workshops conducted by reputed hospital and community pharmacy divisions of medical colleges.
Pharmaceutical Jurisprudence and IPR shall be shifted to Semester 5. At higher level understanding of the subject will be better. In that place, Pharmaceutical Chemistry II can be brought to Semester 3.

Semester 4
As a part of Pharmaceutical Chemistry III (quality assurance) practical, students shall be asked to spend a week in a reputed quality assurance laboratory or attend at least 3 workshops conducted jointly by the college and the industry in industry premises.

Traditional medicines theory shall include Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and other practices, which are presently practiced in India. The syllabus of traditional medicines shall include review articles from Indian journal of traditional knowledge and such other journals.

Traditional medicines practical shall involve survey of medicinal plants and herbarium collection of the plants of student’s native place. The students shall also involve in the survey of plants used in their kitchen, standardization, pharmacological validation and formulation of the collected data as a part of the practical.

Pharmacognosy and phytochemistry practical shall involve at least two field visits of any herbal drug manufacturing unit, volatile oil extraction unit or an Ayurveda manufacturing unit.

Pharmaceutical Chemistry II can be shifted to Semester 3 and Pharmaceutical Chemistry III can be brought to Semester 4.

Semester 5
Pharmaceutical Chemistry III and Medicinal Chemistry I practical experiments shall be novel. Mere synthesis and throwing the product into sink shall be avoided. The product prepared in previous years shall become a raw material in later years. Isolation of impurities, their synthesis, purity and spectral studies of all samples shall be included. Such experiments can be given to a group of students.
Industry/research organization visit can be replaced with attending two days workshops conducted in industry or research organization premises, jointly organized by the college and the industry.

Semester 6
Pharmacognosy and Phyochemistry II practical shall involve isolation of phytoconstituents and their purification by column and preparative TLC methods. Identification by spectral methods shall also be included.
Medicinal Chemistry II practical shall involve final purification of drug samples collected from industries. Such exercises may contribute well due to increased interaction between the industries and the academia.

Semester 7
Instrumental methods of analysis practical shall involve UV, IR, HPLC, HPTLC, GC, NMR and mass experiments. Students shall be asked to interpret structures based on NMR and mass data of commonly available simple structure drugs, which are available in I.P.

Semester 8
Biostatistics and research methodology shall involve teaching methods, presentation of data (oral or poster), impact factor, citation index, patenting etc. The subject name can be changed to pharma journalism.
Cosmetics and veterinary practical shall involve the formulation and screening methods. Herbal veterinary products shall also be given importance.

The project work shall be publishable or patentable. If not possible by one group of students, then the next year students shall continue the same and make it publishable. The students valuable time shall not be a waste along with wastage of chemicals and other costs, it should be outcome oriented.

Pharmacy Council of India has done a wonderful job in working towards new syllabus, which is definitely a new dimensional and helps in uplifting the profession and these suggestions shall be implemented for the betterment of pharmacy profession.

(The authors are with SDM College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, SDM University, Dharwad, Karnataka)


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