The Kerala State Pharmacy Council (KSPC) is aggressively working out strategies for enforcing the Pharmacy Act in true spirit. The Council has become a role model for other state pharmacy councils in many ways. Excerpts from an interview with B Rajan, president of KSPC by Peethaambaran Kunnathoor.
Implementation of Section 42 of Pharmacy Act is always a subject of discussion among the pharmacist community and sometimes it evokes the wrath of a section of traders. It has been found that there is difficulty in implementing the Act in all the community pharmacies in our country. In this respect, what are the steps taken by KSPC to implement Section 42 in Kerala?
We have taken several steps for implementation of Section 42 in the state with the support of the government. We do not think that there are difficulties in implementing the Act. We are of opinion that the drugs should be handled by a registered pharmacist only. KSPC has now appointed pharmacy inspectors in all districts with the approval of the government. Kerala is the first state in the country with pharmacy inspectors appointed in all the districts. We will not allow any pharmacy in the state to operate without the presence of a registered pharmacist because managing pharmacy and handling of drugs are exclusively the job of pharmacists. We are initiating action against the violators also.
So far how many violations you have noted and what follow up steps have been taken?
Within the last two years our inspectors conducted 489 inspections across the state and found violation of Section 42 in 43 pharmacies. The respective pharmacy inspectors have been asked to initiate prosecutions in these drug stores. Memo was issued for 439 cases. The council has suspended the registration of two pharmacists for violation of Rule 149, 150 and 151. Infringement of Section 34 (Renewal of Licence) was also noted.
Following this, 25 registered pharmacists were censured, and in another case, imposed penalties of Rs. 500 each to other 25 pharmacists for violation of code of ethics.
What is KSPC’s programmes to create confidence in pharmacists and to strengthen their profession? How do you want to empower them for the sake of society?
In the case of strengthening the profession of pharmacy and to empower them Kerala Pharmacy Council has become a role model for other state pharmacy councils. We have now started health insurance scheme for the practicing pharmacists and their families. With a small amount, the pharmacists can avail the benefits of Rs one lakh for their healthcare needs.
On the advice of Pharmacy Council of India, KSPC has started a continuing pharmacy education (CPE) programme for the practicing pharmacists. Two programmes were already conducted and the participants represented 10 districts.
Unlike in other states, we are issuing certificates through a convocation called ‘white coat ceremony’. Simultaneously, we conduct a one day orientation course for the fresh pharmacists before they step into their profession. The course comprises scientific classes and training for managing a pharmacy. We have requested the government for a grant of Rs 30 lakh for the purpose.
Primarily what are the things the pharmacy inspectors concentrate on while visiting a pharmacy store?
The pharmacy inspectors mainly concentrate on ensuring whether a registered pharmacist is dispensing the drugs. He will inspect the storage conditions and other things mentioned in the pharmacy Act. Display of registration certificate of pharmacist is mandatory. The pharmacist must wear white over coat and ID card issued by the state pharmacy Council.
Section 26 A (2) of the pharmacy Act says that the pharmacy inspector can inspect any premises where drugs are compounded or dispensed. We are planning to inspect the clinics of doctors to check whether medicines are dispensed there by registered pharmacists.
The inspector will submit the inspection report to the council registrar and the council will take necessary action on it. We have our own inspectors to enforce the pharmacy act.
Strengthening of pharmacy profession is a duty and concern of the pharmacy Council. What are the new projects of KSPC in this regard?
We are undertaking some new projects to strengthen the pharmacy profession. Apart from other training courses, we are introducing a certificate course for which we started one training centre, State Institute for Pharmacists’ Advanced Training & Research (SIPATR). Dr KG Ravikumar is the director. Another project in the pipeline is the launching of district wise drug information centres with the involvement of pharmacists.
How does KSPC support the pharmacy education in Kerala?
The power to regulate the pharmacy education is vested with the PCI. KSPC’s role in controlling the educational institution is nil, but we are giving all support to pharmacy education. Likewise, KSPC is getting full support and cooperation from all the pharmacy colleges also.
But, my view is that the state Councils should be given the power to monitor and supervise the pharmacy education in the respective states. It is too difficult for the PCI to properly regulate the academic institutions sitting in Delhi, so the quality of education is declining. The state Councils should be assigned to inspect the colleges. This can be done through an amendment. PCI has given suggestion to the government for amendment of PCI Act.
What is your opinion about Pharm D course? Do you see any scope for the Pharm D graduates in Kerala?
In all sense it is a super professional course. In Kerala, 11 colleges are conducting the Pharm D programme. The first batch will come out in this year and 200 qualified persons are expected.
Job opportunities can be generated in Kerala for these graduates. All the pharmacy colleges should absorb Pharm D holders to teach pharmacy practice. Besides, government should start clinical pharmacy departments and ADR centres in all the hospitals.
The clinical trials are conducted now by doctors who are busy with their profession. So, Pharm D graduates can be utilized for carrying out clinical trials and other research activities.
How far the drugs control department‘s support towards enforcing pharmacy Act.
KSPC is not satisfactory with the attitude shown by the drugs control department. They think it is something like dual control. We are enforcing the pharmacy act and they are implementing the D&C Act. Cooperation from DC department is necessary to enforce the pharmacy act in its true spirit. Some drug inspectors have got some kind of misunderstandings, but some people are cooperating.
What are the projects taken by KSPC for updating the knowledge of pharmacists?
KSPC is continuing pharmacy education programme of 15 days long orientation course. Both the programmes include scientific lessons.
What is the basic qualification of a pharmacy inspector?
The basic qualification of a pharmacy inspector is diploma in pharmacy with degree in any discipline. Besides, ten years of experience in pharmacy practice is also required. The B. Pharm graduates can also become pharmacy inspectors.