MPharm graduates wary of pharmacy practice Bill amendment

They oppose reserving clinical pharmacists’ posts for Pharm D graduates alone

The Union government recently gave the go-ahead for having clinical pharmacists, who besides dispensing drugs to patients also monitor and optimise their use based on each one’s health conditions, in hospitals and medical shops. But, not everyone is happy about it.

The government amended Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015, to describe the position, title, and job responsibilities of clinical pharmacist and drug information pharmacist. A gazette notification was issued on July 5. However, MPharm Pharmacy Practice graduates who have been serving as clinical pharmacists for over two decades in health-care institutions have opposed a direction in the amendment to reserve these posts exclusively for Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) graduates.

K.G. Ravikumar, former Head of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, said that the council should have allowed both Pharm D and MPharm graduates to work as clinical pharmacists. “It would have helped professionalise pharmacy practice in medical shops, most of which now have only diploma or degree holders, and not trained pharmacists who can advise patients on safe use of drugs,” he said.

Sources told The Hindu that MPharm Pharmacy Practice graduates becoming ineligible for the post was ironical as they have been training Pharm D graduates in academic institutions and hospitals. Moreover, the curriculum of MPharm Pharmacy Practice is in accordance with the job roles mentioned in the new amendment.

Equally trained

MPharm Pharmacy Practice and Pharm D graduates are equally trained in ward-round participation, prescription auditing for medication errors, drug interaction monitoring, patient care and follow-up, drug information services, poison information, therapeutic drug monitoring, adverse drug reaction monitoring, and patient counselling in different specialities. They are also adept at dosage adjustments, preparation of hospital formulary, antibiotic stewardship, interaction with other health-care professionals, drug trials and clinical research.

Specialty course

MPharm Pharmacy Practice was introduced in the country in 1996 as a two-year postgraduate specialty course after the four-year BPharm graduate course. Since then, these postgraduates are practising clinical pharmacy. When Pharm D was introduced in 2008 as a six-year-course, those graduates too became eligible to practise.

A Health Department official said that the amendment could leave practising MPharm Pharmacy Practice graduates and those who pursue this course in the lurch. It would also challenge the very existence of the MPharm Pharmacy Practice course, he said. There are around 75 colleges offering MPharm course in the country and nearly 1,000 students graduate every year.

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