Pharmacy education in India: Past, present and future The life of pharmacists is simply the story of people with a purpose “to produce new and better remedies in man’s fight against diseases and malnutrition”. Thus pharmacist is the key element of any country’s pharmaceutical spectrum and pharmacy education is the base foundation on which the edifice of the whole pharmaceutical industry, technology, research and clinical pharmacy are built.The primary purpose of pharmacy education is to develop technical human resources, novel approach and vision with respect to teaching, research and development and training future health care professionals in the field of drugs and pharmaceuticals.

If we look back at the history of pharmacy profession or practice in India, we will have to go back to the year 1811 when Scotch M Bathgate opened a chemist shop in Kolkatta. This was probably the beginning of pharmacy practice in India. In 1824, the east India Company felt the need to train Indians for medical practice and establish medical colleges for their own interest.Though, at that time pharmacy practice was established in England, no initiative was taken to train Indians for effective pharmacy practice.

Subsequently, in the Bengal Municipal Act, 1884, a provision was made for having some qualifications to dispense medicine. As per the provision, a one-year course was introduced for training persons for dispensing medicine. In 1899, the compounder-training course was introduced in Chennai. In 1928, the State Medical Faculty of Bengal started a two-year course for training compounders. In 1932, at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Prof.Mahadeva Lal Schroff with his chemical technology back ground, urged Pt.

M. M. Malviyaji to start a separate branch of Pharmaceutical Sciences at BHU. Pt. Malviyaji realized its importance and Schroff was given the green signal to organize this new discipline in India, for the first time Prof. Schroff introduced Pharmaceutical Chemistry as the principal subject in the BSc Course in 1932 in BHU.

From 1934 an integrated 2-year BSc course with the subjects-pharma chemistry, pharmacy and pharmacognosy, was introduced, which later from 1937 turned into a full-fledged three-year B.Pharm course at BHU for the first time in India. This was the first and foremost creation of Prof M. L. Schroff, which earned him the title of the pioneer and father of Indian pharmaceutical education. In 1937, the first full-fledged degree course was started in Andhra University.

On March 4, 1948, a statutory control was imposed on pharmacy education with the enactment of Pharmacy Act, 1948. For registration as a pharmacist under the act, the PCI recommended a two-year diploma course in pharmacy after matriculation with science as the mandatory qualification.BITS, Pilani, was the first institution where D. Pharm was started in 1950. This two-year course seemed to be the best option under the circumstances existing at that time, as there was a dearth of pharmaceutically qualified persons in the country.

On March 9, 1949, the Pharmacy Council of India of Technical Education (PCI) was constituted to fulfil the objectives of Pharmacy Act. On December 23, 1987, the All India of Technical Education (AICTE) Act 1987 was enacted and pharmacy education was also included under its purview.India, has a strong academic base in terms of student’s enrolment for the pharmacy profession. There has been an exponential growth in the number of teaching institutions over the past 10-12 years. At present there are about 350-375 diploma (2 years post HSC) institutions producing over 20,000 pharmacists annually.

Around 250-260 institutions are producing almost 8000-10,000 pharmacy graduates (4 years post HSC) while 800 postgraduates (2 years post B. Pharm) students are coming from 40 PG institutions annually.Apart from that, there are about 120-150 doctoral degrees (3 to 5 years post M. Pharm) given to the pharmacists every year. For several decades pharmaceutical education has had a strong and relatively clear set of values underpinning its professional education programs.

Derived from both education and practice, these values have in substantial measure driven the educational process in such diverse areas as admissions criteria and decisions, curricular structure, faculty research focus, and the structure and content of licensure examinations.They have significantly influenced the nature of the work that pharmacists perform and in many ways, have molded the image and responsibilities of pharmacists in their minds and the minds of the public. These values have generally served us well and the values primarily were: •Emphasis on learning and retaining factual knowledge about drug products, including their chemistry, pharmacological actions, generic and trade names, and related information. •Curricula driven by the "evidence-based hard sciences" of chemistry; biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacokinetics, etc. Inculcation of an ethic in graduates that they are "the legal guardian" of the medication supply, often placing them at odds with other practitioners and patients who view medications as tools in the provision of care, not objects to be guarded and •Emphasis on independence and competition in the educational process, professional practice, and business operations.

As a result of our sincere endeavor, the traditional value system was sound enough to meet the indigenous needs.Due to technological innovation, communication and revolutions everywhere lot of changes are taking place. The field of Pharmacy is not an exception to such changes. In the absence of a national statistics of professional opportunities and new avenues, the curriculum continues to be highly industry oriented. At the same time the patents, intellectual property rights; WTO and GATT regime have started dictating the global developments in pharmaceutical sciences and trade.

Thus, its time to evolve in a timely manner to reflect the global needs of health care and drug therapy.With globalization and economic liberalization and with the emergence of the so-called knowledge based economy and ‘learning society’, the term ‘life-long learning’ is now rivaling ‘thinking’ and ‘quality’ as educational buzzwords. To meet the global requirements every efforts are to be made to improve the standard of learning, level of understanding. This is now having direct impact on the education system making it one of the important aspects requiring a much needed revamping.