Pharmacists: The Bravehearts During-Pandemic

It is interesting to note that in India, while Drugs & Cosmetics Act and Rules 1945, regulate manufacture, sale and distribution of medicines, the profession of pharmacy is regulated by the Pharmacy Act, 1948. Consequently, the pharmacies are licensed under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the qualified persons in charge of selling/dispensing medicines in chemists/druggists outlets are governed by pharmacy councils.

During the last fifty years after India's independence, greatest emphasis has been making medicines available in the country through indigenous manufacture. By 1990s, India became self-sufficient and began exporting quality drugs. However, the area related to the professional aspects of pharmacy did not get the required attention. The chemists were generally recognized doing trade in medicines than providing their professional services. The professional associations also focussed much of their attention to manufacturing and technical issues.

Therefore, The Indian Pharmaceutical Association's Delhi branch, during 1995, thought that it was the opportune time to initiate a change, which will prepare chemists to start offering professional services and change their image as a mere medicine trader.

This initiative was organized by Dr. DBA Narayana, the then president of IPA, Delhi branch, Mr. Brijesh Regal, a practicing community pharmacist and honorary general secretary of IPA, Delhi branch and Mr. Prafull D Sheth, the vice president of IPA at headquarters,

The efforts in short were: 1) to speak to selected chemists in Delhi at informal meetings 2) to bring them to understand the importance of professional aspects in their daily work 3) to organize small discussional groups to emphasize the needs for change 4) to provide copies of drug information bulletins, articles, and the like on pharmacy profession as practiced abroad. 5) To build within them a trust that the organizers were generally interested in Helping them to embrace and inculcate professionalism 6) To prove that the future was in pharmacy practice and to improve drastically without further delay for their own survival and growth

The last of them was the toughest. A brilliant way was innovated to attract the chemists to participate in a "pharma quiz" and to provide a hefty and innovative prize to the first and second winner (viz, a computer costing about RS. 1 Lac and books worth RS. 25000, etc.) First of such quiz was held on the National

Pharmacy week inauguration day in November, 1995. This attracted over 250 participants, who participated with great enthusiasm and zeal. However, most of the participants felt deeply dejected that they could not even answer most common questions on the products they sell everyday in their outlets and ought to have known.

This quiz was repeated two or three times during 1995-96, including holding same during 1996 mega event of Indian Pharmaceutical Congress at Mumbai. The organizers conducted this in several places. The result was stunning and started making the desired impact.

Seizing the opportunity, the IPA, Delhi branch conceptualized and organized the first IPA convention on COMMUNITY PHARMACY, "Pharmacy in new age", at the prestigious Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi. The convention permitted only community pharmacists from retail and hospital pharmacy to participate and it received overwhelming response with more than 450 pharmacists participating in the sessions on 15th and 16th November, 1997. It was perhaps for the first time, dignatories, viz, President and leaders of AIOCD and Drug Controller General (India) shared the platform with the organizers. They welcomed this change for the betterment of chemists and their integration with the main stream professionals. The rest of the year was spent on how to keep this effort going and to do all that is necessary for providing continued professional development programme in pharmacy. The required resources came from the savings accrued by IPA, Delhi branch from previous pharma congresses held in Delhi.This saving became the initial corpus fund of the Delhi Pharmaceutical Trust. . The Trust Deed was registered on 17th day of April 1998 at Delhi, as a Public Charitable Trust.

The website tells you what the trust is about and its current activities.

Some of the photos courtsey Dr.H.P. Tipnis . of The Medicine Shoppe