Academics concerned about future of Pharm D and scope of its job opportunities

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai 
Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
With just a few weeks to commence the next batch of Pharm D course in the recognised colleges in India and the college managements are making a last ditch effort to woo students for admissions, senior academicians are concerned about the future of the course and scope of job opportunities for the degree holders.

The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) had introduced Pharm D course as an educational reform to match global standards, but critics are of the opinion that the course will not seem to match the claim. The course was started in 2008 giving much expectation to students of pharmacy in India, especially the aspiring pharmacists who were targeted for the six-year course and the B Pharm graduates to the lateral entry for the three-year post baccalaureate course.

Giving a warning to the aspirants of the course, the faculty members who have thorough knowledge about the various courses such as D Pharm, B Pharm and M Pharm are advising the students to opt for degree course suitable to Indian scenario rather than dreaming of western opportunities.

At present the Indian Pharm D degree is not recognised by the US Boards of Pharmacy.According to them each developed country in the world is producing enough pharmacy graduates to meet their healthcare demands. The US has around 125 universities offering Pharm D degrees with an average enrollment of more than 120 students, academicians on condition of anonymity said.

“Right now the US is producing enough number of pharmacists to meet their healthcare demands in hospitals and retail pharmacies. There is unemployment for American Pharm D holders in the states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland. Job opportunities are not that good in other 45 states also,” a senior professor from a popular pharmacy college in Gujarat told Pharmabiz.

He further said each individual state in the US will recognize the foreign Pharm D degree depending upon their demand. Besides, there is no special visa category to take Indian Pharm D graduates into America. According to him, no such visa category will be created in future as there is no shortage of American Pharm D holders.

“Information received from US is that if one Indian Pharm D holder enters the US on one’s own risk, one has to take foreign pharmacy graduate equivalency examination (FPGEE). Then he has to go through 1000 to 2000 hours of internship, NAPLEX examination, dispensing examination, law examination, test of English as foreign language (TOEFL), and test of spoken English (TSE) depending upon the states. Only after that he will receive the pharmacist license. Then, it is his turn to compete in the open market to get jobs. It is too difficult to get jobs in hospitals in the US because they prefer their own graduates who are properly trained for therapeutic drug monitoring. Not only from India, but also from other countries the pharmacists come to US in search of jobs and compete with the local graduates. There are very few clinical and hospital pharmacy jobs for Indian Pharm D graduates in the US hospitals in the next 20 years,” the professor said.

Some faculty members have alleged that the PCI started the course in order to satisfy the private college managements whose income from B Pharm and M Pharm seats came down drastically in the recent past. To compensate the loss, the managements influenced the PCI for a new course and the outcome was the six-year Pharm D, the critics alleged. They added that the Pharm D seats are sold at Rs.6 lakhs to Rs.10 lakhs depending upon the college.

In an email sent by a working professor to this reporter says that around 130 pharmacy colleges all over India were given permission to conduct Pharm D course till now, and out of these, 60 are in Andhra Pradesh, 31 in Karnataka, 18 in Tamil Nadu and 12 in Kerala.

While speaking to Pharmabiz over telephone, a pharmacy lecturer said diploma holders in pharmacy (D Pharm) are enough to work in Indian medical shops. B Pharm graduates can work in hospital pharmacies. “We don’t need Pharm Ds in India except for the sake of PCI to give approvals to colleges and for the private college managements to sell the seats at inflated prices. Our pharmacy college managements and their representatives will do anything for money. We cannot start a degree programme like Pharm D to meet the healthcare demands in other countries when it is not relevant and not useful here,” he said.

He further said only post graduates in Pharmacy (M Pharm) are preferred to teach the B Pharm students and to work in pharmaceutical industries. No such chance will be given for the Pharm D graduates who have to compete with D Pharm, B Pharm and M Pharm graduates in India for jobs.