In-Depth Jobs

Volume-41, 6-12 January, 2018

Career in Pharmacy

Vijay Prakash Srivastava

Most of us may have used some medicine at one point or other. There is a science behind making of these medicines. This is known as pharmaceutical science. The subject is a combination of physics, chemistry, biology, and to limited extent mathematics and engineering also.
The subject covers study of techniques involved in the preparation and administration  of medicines in the healthcare industry. Students also learn about synthesis of drugs formulations, analysis, regulations, testing, and research drugs for medications with training in General Physics, Human Anatomy and Physiology. It is a research oriented subject .
Pharmacy students are required to make use of available knowledge and resources to build further and come out with new discoveries in medicines and medical formulations. As qualified pharmacists they work as a link between doctors and patients .The performance is based on their understanding of effectiveness and usage of medicines. Pharmacists advise doctors about composition of medicines, how a particular medicine is expected to work and its side effects, if any. Thus their role is extremely important in promoting healthcare. Today we have many advanced drugs to cure many of difficult diseases. The credit should go to pharmacists and other researchers.
The Indian pharmaceutical industry, which is growing at a speed of over 15 per cent per annum is expected to reach 55 billion US Dollars by year 2020.Thus it will be the sixth largest pharmaceutical market globally. India is the largest provider of generic drugs in the world with the Indian generics accounting for 20 per cent of global exports in terms of volume. This growth is due to certain advantages the country has. When it comes to medicines, India’s cost of production is nearly 33 per cent lower than that of the United States (US). Also labour costs are 50–55 per cent cheaper here than in western countries. According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India has the 2nd largest number of US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approved manufacturing plants outside the US with 2,633 FDA approved drug products.
Healthcare is a domain that will always be in demand irrespective of economic boom, inflation or recession. Considering that healthcare is never going to lose its importance requirement of pharmacists shall be always there. If you’ve an aptitude and liking for the subject you may think of choosing pharmacy as your career stream.
Formal study of pharmacy can be pursued after you’ve completed your 10+2 with science subjects. You may chose to join a Diploma in Pharmacy course of 2 years duration or a graduate degree course which has duration of 4 years. Both the courses require an internship of 6 month to gain practical exposure. Admission to D.Pharma is direct. For B.Pharma admissions practices differ with institutes.  Some institutes offer admission on the basis of marks obtained in 10+2 while in some there is a written test .Like in other cases a graduate degree puts you on stronger footing for high end careers.
A Master’s degree course in Pharmacy can be joined after completion of B.Pharma. There are plenty of research opportunities in Pharmacy leading to a doctorate (Ph.D) degree.
The topics covered under various Pharmacy courses include Inorganic and organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physical and Health Sciences, Pharmacology and Toxicology etc.
Like in many other Postgraduate courses, while studying for M.Pharma students may be required to chose a specialization. Few of the available specializations are
*Pharmaceutical Engineering
*Hospital Pharmacy
*Pharmaceutical Chemistry
*Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
*Quality Assurance & Control of Pharmacy Products
Pharmaceutical Management
For higher education and research in pharmaceutical sciences, some developed countries offer great opportunities. These include US, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Australia, Newzealand. You can go for Masters in Public Health or Masters in Health Management in countries like US, Great Britain etc. where the community pharmacy is in huge demand with high government spending on social security and healthcare.
A number of scholarships are also offered to bright and needy students.
Institutes offering Pharmacy Courses in India
Pharmacy Council of India has been established by the government in the year 1948 to regulate and maintain uniform standard of pharmaceutical education in the country and promote ethical standards in pharma business. As per list available on its website. There are more than 1100 institutes authorized to conduct courses in pharmacy. Some of the well known institute from this list are mentioned below:
*Kamla Nehru Institute of Pharmacy & Research, Sultanpur, U.P.
*Kanpur Institute of Technology & Pharmacy, Kanpur
*Roorkee College of Pharmacy, Roorkee, Uttarakhand
*Institute of Pharmacy, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal
*Bengal College of pharmaceutical sciences & Research, Durgapur, West Bengal
*Rajasthan Pharmacy College, Jaipur
*Regional College of Pharmacy, Jaipur
*Alwar Pharmacy College, Alwar, Rajasthan
*Himalayan Pharmacy Institute, Rangpo, Sikkim
*College of Pharmacy, Madurai Medical College, Madurai
*R.V.S. College of pharmaceutical sciences, Coimbatore
*Madras Medical College& Research Institute, Chennai
*St Mary’s College of Pharmacy, Secunderabad
*Sarojini Naidu Vanita Pharmacy Mahavidyalaya, Hyderabad
*Kamla Nehru College of Pharmacy, Nagpur
*Indira Gandhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bhubaneswar
*Gayatri College of Pharmacy, Sambalpur, Orissa
*Rishiraj College of Pharmacy, Indore
*Rajeev Gandhi College of Pharmacy, Bhopal
*C.M.R. College of Pharmacy, Bengaluru
*Basaveshwara College of Pharmacy, Bidar Karnataka
*University College of Pharmacy, Kottayam, Kerala
*Vaish Institute of pharmaceutical Education & Research, Rohtak, Haryana
*School of Medical & Allied Sciences, Gurugram, Haryana
*Himachal Institute of pharmaceutical Education & Research, Nadaun, Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh
*Department of pharmaceutical Science, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi
*Bhagwan Mahavir College of Pharmacy, Surat, Gujarat
*Bihar College of Pharmacy, Patna
*Department of pharmaceutical Science, Dibrugarh University, Assam
*J.K. College of Pharmacy, Chhattisgarh
*Delhi Institute of pharmaceutical Sciences & Research, New Delhi
*Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Pharmacy, New Delhi
National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) with its centres at Mohali (Punjab), Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Hazipur (Bihar) is an apex institution for higher education and research in pharmaceutical Sciences offering mostly postgraduate and doctoral courses.
Before you join any pharmacy course you should make sure that it has the recognition of Pharmacy Council of India.
Job opportunities
Students of Pharmacy can explore work opportunities in diverse areas which always need competent professionals. These broad areas are:
Formulation: Here you’ll work with a drug manufacturing company involved in producing medicines which may be in form of tablets, capsules, injections, syrup or lotion etc. You may be assigned portfolio of few particular medicines to look after their proper formulation and production process. Such job opportunities are available with bulk drug manufacturing companies.
Research & Development: All big drug companies have their Research & Development departments where researchers are involved in discovery of new drugs, improving effectiveness of existing drugs and studying properties of chemicals/elements used in medicines. Also there are research institutes involved in drug discovery and other areas of pharmaceutical sciences. These may be government promoted or established by private bodies. There are international level research institutes too.
Manufacturing Quality Control/ Assurance: Making drugs is a serious and responsible business where nothing can be left to chance. To ensure that the production process is as per standards and right formulations are used, Quality Control/Assurance supervisors are appointed in drug manufacturing companies, as per government guidelines. Such role is also available with regulating bodies and drug testing laboratories etc.
Teaching: Those with a B.Pharma qualification are considered eligible to teach diploma students .To teach B.Pharma students usually a postgraduate degree is required. In many cases, for teaching assignments, pharmacy colleges prefer candidates with industry/business experience. A National Eligibility Test (NET) qualification may help you get an academic role. Teaching opportunities exist at pharmacy colleges and universities offering courses in pharmacy.
Hospital/Clinical Pharmacy
Those with a Diploma in Pharmacy have this opportunity of working as a Pharmacist at hospitals and clinics. Opportunities exist at government, railway, army and private hospitals along with bodies like All India Institute of Medical Sciences etc. Various chains of private hospitals (e.g. Apollo, Wockhardt, etc.) require pharmacists in bulk numbers. Pharmacists are also required at small town hospitals and clinics. The job here involves advising patients regarding doses of prescribed medicines, diet etc. and counseling them. Pharmacists are required to work in close coordination with doctors and nurses.
Marketing /Sales: Selling of medicines is different from selling of clothes and consumer durables etc. Only qualified and trained persons can be appointed as medical representatives who visit doctors on behalf of medicine companies to promote their products. Those having a degree like B.Sc. (Biology), B.Pharma are considered eligible for the role of medical representatives. This is a field job .In addition to regular salary many companies offer incentives also which depends on fulfilling or surpassing targets .High performers in this role have good growth opportunities to become regional/state /national sales/ marketing manager. Like all other big businesses medicine companies also have a marketing function. In some business management institutions specialization in Pharmaceutical Management is available.
Adding qualifications for better career prospects
After obtaining a degree in pharmacy, candidates have option to combine it with another qualification for wider/better career opportunities. Potential courses can be-
Business Management: This may help to make a career in sales/marketing of pharma products
Law: A law degree may be useful to enter legal and regulatory domains which matter highly for pharma industry. A course or specialization in Intellectual Property Rights is also a good combination.
Potential Employers (Drug Companies)
For  qualified pharmacy professionals potential employers include  home grown drug companies like Cipla, Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories ,Ajanta Pharma, Alkem Laboratories, Aurbindo Pharma, Cadila Health, Glenmark ,Torrent Pharma, Piramal Enterprises, Alembik Pharma, Lupin Pharmaceuticals ,Divis Labs, Strides Shasun ,Unichem Laboratories, Natco Pharma , Jubiliant Life Sciences and multinational  giants Glaxo Smithline, Pfizer, Boots, Merck & Co., Abbott India etc. and government promoted Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited etc. Websites of many of these companies carry details of available career opportunities with them.
Personality traits required
To do well in a pharmacy related career you should have scientific and logical aptitude .Other personality traits required include accuracy, dedication, compassion,  patience and ethical orientation of high order. You also require an inquiring mind always willing to learn. 
A career in pharmacy provides you an opportunity to serve the humanity and improve its well being.
The Author is a Mumbai based Career Counsellor. E-Mail: