Career in Pharmaceutical Sector
Dr. Purvi Prakash
Pharmaceutical industry in India is one of the most developed industries of the country and third largest in the world. It is technologically strong and totally self-reliant. The low cost of manufacturing, and research and development is an advantage that India has along with world-class laboratories and innovative scientists that we have. Today, we are making all types of medicines and pharmaceutical formulations indigenously – from simple pills for the headache to complex cardiac compounds.
Since the system of product patent was introduced in 2005, India has evolved into a worldwide exporter of high-quality generic drugs. India is also a leading supplier of AIDS drugs to the world. Some of the countries that import medicines from India include Germany, Russia, France, UK, Brazil, and the US.
Indian government is quite proactive in boosting growth of the industry. For most of the drugs and pharmaceutical products approved by the Drug Control Authority, manufacturers do not require industrial licenses. The government also allows 100 percent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the sector, under the automatic route.
There are as many as 19 special economic zones (SEZs) for the pharma sector across India, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Pharma City (JNPC) in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh; Zydus Infrastructure’s pharmez in Gujarat; and Cadila Pharma’s Phaez Park in Gujarat.
A McKinsey report projected that the Indian pharmaceutical sector is slated to grow to US $55 billion by 2020.
Pharma Vision 2020
India is home to about 10,500 drug manufacturing units and more than 3,000 pharma companies. After the USA, India has highest number of health industry related product patents filed in the USA. Known for high spending on Research & Development, India has also become a major destination for generic drug manufacturing. Now that product patents have been introduced in India, several MNCs are expected to launch their patented drugs in India too.
It is believed that India has an advantage of low drug manufacturing costs. Drugs costs here are about 35-40% less than those in the US. In the last decade, pharmaceutical exports have grown to the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 68%. In 'Pharma Vision 2020', the Government of India stated that it aims to make India a global leader in end-to-end drug manufacturing by 2020. It is believed that the Indian pharma sector will need to hire about 2.15 crore employees by 2020 to fulfill the demand of the global markets.
The government is also embarking on a major multi-billion dollar initiative through a public-private partnership (PPP) model to make India’s one of the top five pharmaceutical innovation hubs by 2020. It has also announced tax-breaks for the pharmaceutical sector and weighted tax deduction at 150% for the R&D expenditure. To promote drugs and pharmaceutical research, the government has announced two major schemes:
*New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative, and
*Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Research Programme.
A Pharmacopeial Commission will also be set up to support Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).
Kinds of Jobs available in the Pharmaceutical Industry
A career in pharmaceutical industry has a bright future. Pharmacy graduates and post graduates can find jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, government departments, universities, research institutes, and pharmaceutical companies.
Most of the jobs in the field are related to manufacturing, quality control (including quality assurance), and distribution (marketing) – and require special skills. Some of the jobs available in the sector include:
*Manufacturing Chemist: Pharmacy graduates who have at least 18 months of work experience can apply for this job. This involves technical expertise as these chemists personally supervise and direct the manufacturing process of medicines. Later, manufacturing chemists can be promoted to positions like factory manager.
The future is secure for graduates in the field as a pharmaceutical company requires such persons to obtain the manufacturing license under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
*Quality Control or Quality Assurance Chemist: Graduates who have an aptitude for pharmaceutical analysis and handle sophisticated instruments may go for this job. QC or QA chemists check and maintain the quality of medicines and pharmaceutical products during and at the end of the manufacturing process, and ensure that they comply with the standards specified in National or other approved pharmacopoeias.
Private and independent drug testing laboratories employ QC chemists too.
*Hospital Pharmacist: In a hospital pharmacy, pharmacists perform a range of functions – from procuring medicines to medicine storage and management in hospitals to disbursing them to customers.
A Diploma in Pharmacy may lead you to this job, but in the government sector and corporate hospitals, only pharmacy graduates get hired. Career growth in this field is limited though.
*Community Pharmacists: Drug stores and retail pharmacies like Apollo Pharmacy, MedPlus or Frank Ross Pharmacy require pharmacists too. A Diploma in Pharmacy can net you such a job easily.
A community pharmacist may find a better-paying job in the western countries like the US and the UK. Many graduate pharmacists enter into the retail business as entrepreneurs though.
*Government Analyst: In government laboratories, pharmacy graduates test samples from manufacturing units or retail drug stores as analysts. For this, they need to undergo training on testing of drugs in approved laboratories first.
*Drug Inspector: Pharmaceutical graduates can become drug inspectors by clearing the Public Service Commission test. As a drug inspector, they monitor the safety, efficacy, and quality of medicines everywhere – right from manufacturing units to the selling points.
In the long term, drug inspectors can aspire to become Drug Controller one day.
*Research Analyst: One of the most sought-after jobs in research laboratories and manufacturing industry, research analysts are involved in drug innovation. They are the ones to develop new drugs or improve existing drugs.
One needs at least an M.Pharma or higher degree to apply for this job.
*Marketing: Pharmaceutical marketing is a specialized job as it involves dealing with the professional chemists and highly qualified doctors. After an initial training, one can join as a Medical Representative in the field and aspire to become General Manager one day. Vacancies in this job are plenty.
Besides the above-stated career opportunities, one can always take up teaching assignments or drug investigation. Some of the emerging fields in the pharmaceutical sectors include contract research, new drug development and delivery systems, and clinical trials etc.
Educational Qualifications and Eligibility Requirements
To opt for a pharmacy course after passing out from school, one needs to have cleared 10+2 examination with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics or Biology. Those who do Intermediate Vocation courses may also graduate in pharmacy with the help of a bridge course.
The basic qualification starts with a 2-year Diploma in Pharmacy (D.Pharma) with a hospital training after it. Students may also go for a 4-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharma) degree course.
Most pharmacy colleges declare a cut-off or have an entrance exam for admission to their B.Pharma courses.
After doing B.Pharma, students can do a 2-year post-graduation degree course - M.Pharma, which can be followed by a PhD (if one is mainly interested in research work).
The students are only considered eligible for the job if they have studied from a PCI (Pharmacy Council of India) approved college or institution, and get registered as a Pharmacist under the Pharmacy Act, 1948.
Most jobs in the sector require specialized training too. Pharmaceutical industry has become quite competitive these days, and a higher degree attracts better opportunities in the field.
Where to Study?
Some of the top-rated pharmacy colleges in India are:
*Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam
*Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, New Delhi
*Department of Pharmaceutics, IIT BHU, Varanasi
*Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh
*Dr Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar
*Government College of Pharmacy, Bengaluru
*Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
*Jadavpur University, Kolkata
*Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
*Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara
*Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak
*National institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Ahmedabad
*National institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Hyderabad
*National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Kolkata
*National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali
*National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Raebareli
*Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Nagpur
*School of Pharmacy, Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore
*University College of Pharmaceutial Science, Kakatiya University, Warangal
*University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chandigarh
*Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore
*Amrita School of Pharmacy, Kochi
*Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
*Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra
*Bombay College of Pharmacy, Mumbai
*Chitkara University, Patiala
*JSS College of Pharmacy, Mysuru
*JSS College of Pharmacy, Ooty
*KLE University College of Pharmacy, Belgaum
*Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Manipal
*Nirma University, Ahmedabad
*Poona College of Pharmacy, Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune
*PSG College of Pharmacy, Coimbatore
*RC Patel Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Shirpur
*Seemanta Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jharpokharia
*Sinhgad College of Pharmacy, Pune
*SLT Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bilaspur
*Soniya Education Trust's College of Pharmacy, Dharwad
*Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai
*SRM University, Chennai
Where to Work?
There is a lot of scope for Pharmaceutical Sciences graduates and experts in the Indian pharmaceutical industry which is growing at a rapid rate. More and more hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmaceutical companies are coming up all over India. Naturally, they require trained staff to run the business. If you are interested in starting your own business, pharmaceutical industry is one of the top choices of entrepreneurs these days.
Pharmacy education can open up job avenues for you in the government sector, universities, and research institutes too. R&D organizations are also amplifying recently and research analysts are quite in demand.
In the pharma industry, people are needed to develop, formulate, produce, sell, and market new and existing drugs for clinical use. From time to time, drug control administration and armed forces also advertise vacancies for pharmacists. In the government departments, drug inspectors or government analysts are needed to make sure that drugs that are manufactured and sold are of standard quality. Appointments are also made for pharmacists who can maintain proper records of all the related activities, as per the specifications.
Food and cosmetic industries, and other health care avenues also employ pharmacists to assure that their products are safe and effective.
In a recent development, dedicated e-drugstores have started selling medicines online. E-pharmacies sell everything from diapers to pills to diazepam. Most of the online pharmacies work with partner retailers who drop the medicines home, while there are some like Medidart and Buydrug that deliver medicines directly. The latter have physical pharmacy outlets too. Prashant Tandon of 1mg.com explains, “There is no separate license for online pharmacies as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act till now. We are just an online platform that connects offline pharmacies which do have a license.” Experts believe that there is a lot of potential in this field too, and those who are entering the market of selling drugs online right now might have an early-mover advantage.
(The author is a consultant and columnist. email email@example.com)