Ramesh ShankarThursday, October 27, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Recently, Pharm. D graduates and other pharmacy professionals from across the country have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention for implementation of Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015 (PPR-2015) and its amendment in 2021 without further delay. The pharmacy professionals are annoyed over the fact that even though PPR-2015 was notified by the Central government way back in 2015 to regulate and enhance the status and practice of pharmacy profession in the country, these regulations remained largely unimplemented even after 7 years, in the absence of support from the state governments. It is a fact that PPR-2015 was framed with the intention of uplifting the status of the pharmacy profession and thereby achieving the goal of patient care. After six years in 2021, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) amended the PPR-2015 with a regulation called Pharmacy Practice (Amendment) Regulations 2021 for Pharm. D professionals in India. In the amendment, the PCI notified the posts of Clinical Pharmacist and Drug Information Officer in the healthcare settings. As all these regulations by and large remained on paper, Pharm. D graduates and other pharmacy professionals have now urged the PCI to direct all state pharmacy councils in the country to take up the issue of implementation of PPR-2015 and Pharmacy Practice (Amendment) Regulations 2021 with the respective state governments. The pharmacy professionals have also asked the PCI to issue a direction to all state pharmacy councils to form a special committee for the implementation of PPR-2015 and Pharmacy Practice (Amendment) Regulations 2021 and submit a detailed proposal to respective state governments.

The Central government’s move in bringing out the PPR-2015 was laudable, as in India the pharmacist community has not yet received the kind of status and respectability actually they deserve. The primary aim of PPR-2015 was to curb the malpractices prevailing in the lakhs of drug stores and thereby enhancing the status and practice of pharmacy profession in the country. Pharmacists are mostly seen by the public in the country as salesmen handing over medicines at the retail shops prescribed by physicians. But, there is a paradigm shift that is witnessing in the duties of a pharmacist in the entire world. It was especially manifest in these times of Covid-19 pandemic. Braving all the risks associated with this highly infectious disease, the pharmacist community also provided a yeoman’s service to the Covid-19 patients. In the international level, the duty of a pharmacist is fast evolving from a mere dispenser of medicines in a retail medical store. Checking drug dosage, drug-drug interactions, drug-allergy interactions, drug food interactions, patient counseling, etc are all now becoming part and parcel of a pharmacist's job. Pharmacists of today are expected to interact with patients, doctors and nurses in a collaborative model as is the case with the developed countries. The focus of pharmacy practice in developed countries has shifted from product centric to patient centric with the implementation of modified pharmacy practice regulations favouring patient safety. But in India, the situation is entirely different as the pharmacy professionals are yet to get the kind of respect actually they deserve. It is true that the government has come out with the right kind of regulation, but it has not taken steps to implement it in letter and spirit. It was under this background, a large number of pharmacy professionals observed a five-day long hunger strike from August 1-5, 2022 in support of their demands in front of the PCI office in the national capital.  Now, the government should ensure that the pharmacy professionals’ demands will not fall on deaf ears.