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Pharmacology: Rising demand for pharmacy professionals

PharmacologyThe pharmaceutical industry is recession-proof and the demand for new generation drugs and formulations is growing.

Pharmacology is a rapidly growing, highly organised profession in which the role of the pharmacist has gained considerable importance with rapid advances and breakthroughs in the global pharmaceutical industry. In the next few years there is a distinct possibility of Indian pharmaceutical firms (Ranbaxy, Cadila, Dr. Reddys Labs, Wockhardt, Cipla etc) embarking on a recruitment spree of pharma professionals to manage their expanding world-wide businesses.

It is estimated that India accounts for two percent of the worlds pharmaceutical market, with an estimated value of about $8 billion. The country ranks fourth in terms of total pharmaceutical production and 13th in terms of value. It is growing at an average of 15 percent annually and is expected to grow to $34 billion by 2012 which would mean fantastic career opportunities for pharmacy graduates.

Until very recently, pharmacology was the next best option of aspiring medical practitioners — a second preference career choice for those who couldnt get that much-coveted medical seat. In the present scenario however, industry leaders are becoming aware that a pharmacist is much more than a compounder or someone with a licence to open a pharmacy. Pharmaceutical science is all about the development and formulation of drugs (from natural and synthetic sources) which are used in the prevention and treatment of disease. Pharmacists work in research laboratories, in the research and development (R&D) departments of pharma companies and other establishments to develop new drugs, guarantee the quality of existing drugs and formulations, and improve their efficacy.

Pharmacy programmes are offered as bachelors degree and diploma courses. The degree programme in pharmacy — bachelor of pharmacy (B.Pharm) — is a four-year course open to students who have completed Plus Two or equivalent examination with physics, chemistry, and biology or mathematics. Admission to the B.Pharm programme is on the basis of performance in an entrance examination which evaluates candidates knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology at the Plus Two or equivalent level.

Most states of the Indian union have promoted colleges of pharmacy which conduct B.Pharm courses. Admissions to state-run colleges are on the basis of state domicile. Some of the reputed colleges/institutes for the study of pharmacy are:

Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi
Faculty of Pharmacy, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
Department of pharmaceutical science, Punjab University, Chandigarh
SNDT Womens University, Mumbai
Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani
Al-Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore
Nalanda College of Pharmacy, Nalgonda
LM College of Pharmacy, Ahmedabad

The eligibility criterion for admission into diploma courses in pharmacy which are usually of two years duration, is completion of the secondary school examination. However, a diploma merely qualifies one for the job of a dispensing pharmacist in hospitals or a pharmacy technician. These courses are of limited value in the present scenario.

Pharmacists working in R&D tend to have postgraduate degrees and this career can be stimulating and rewarding for those interested in serving humankind, alleviating pain and suffering. Research jobs are available at institutes such as the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow; the National Chemical Laboratory in Pune; the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad.

Recession-proof industry. The pharmaceutical industry is recession-proof and as the population of the aged increases, the demand for new generation drugs and formulations will continue to expand. The export market offers cost-effective Indian drug manufacturers the best prospect for rapid expansion and higher profits. Therefore, the employment prospects of pharmacy professionals are good.

This is a noble profession in which we are constantly striving to improve the quality of human life. For those who have a commitment to excellence and who want the chance to alleviate disease, pain and suffering, a career in pharmacy offers numerous opportunities and substantial rewards,” says Kisan B. Chaudhari (43) who heads the R&D division of Glaxo SmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Chaudhari has impeccable professional credentials. After completing his M.Pharm in pharmaceutical technology from the University of Nagpur, he was awarded his Ph D in pharmaceutical sciences from the University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT), Mumbai in 1992 after which he worked as a post-doctoral research scientist at the University of Kentuckys centre for pharmacy. Before joining Glaxo in 1997, he worked with Lederle (Cynamid) India, and Lupin Labs. A highly respected professional in this field, Chaudhari has registered one Italian and two Indian patents and has had research papers featured in eight international and national publications.

In India, pharma R&D is on a par with international standards. Now MNC affiliates like Glaxo SmithKline have their own R&D departments. The industry has grown by 100 percent and the demand for pharmacists is phenomenal. The way things are going, we will be manufacturing not only for India, but also for the rest of the world,” predicts Chaudhari.

For those contemplating a career in this fast-track industry the good news is that salary scales are second only to pay scales in the IT industry. After eight to 10 years of experience a pharmacist could take home a pay package of over Rs.10 lakh a year with the sky being the limit for bright and experienced professionals. Moreover there is a huge — and rising — demand abroad for pharma post-graduates and doctorates. An estimated 40 percent of pharmacists in the US are from India. A career in pharmacy is challenging and has a great future,” says Chaudhari.

Rising demand for Pharmacy Professionals

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