Pharm D course started in India in 2008 by Pharmacy Council of India as an advanced six years course in pharmacy practice with the expectation that students who pass out will be able to meet the emerging needs of healthcare sector. With the fast changing challenges in the healthcare sector, these professionals are considered to be competent enough to provide safe and cost effective healthcare solutions to the patient community of the country. More than 100 pharmacy colleges were reported to have obtained permission to conduct Pharm D course in the country and out of these, 60 are in Andhra Pradesh, 31 in Karnataka, 18 in Tamil Nadu and 12 in Kerala. Only over a dozen colleges have, however, started the Pharm D course so far and a few hundreds of professional have already come out from these institutions. In most of the developed countries such as US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Ireland, clinical pharmacists are an integral part of the healthcare system and work along with physicians and nurses efficiently. In these countries, clinical pharmacists are permitted to immunize, reissue prescriptions for long-term treatment. The doctors diagnose, initiate the treatment protocol and the patient care plan is shared with the pharmacists. That is not the case in India and positions of clinical pharmacists are very few and exist only in a few hospitals in the country.
Although Pharm D students have started coming out of the colleges from this year onwards, employment prospects for them do not seem to be that encouraging. In fact, several hundreds of pharmacy professionals holding D Pharm and B Pharm are already without jobs as the pharmacy colleges in the country are too many. Now in the coming years, the number of Pharm D holders is also going to be in thousands when more colleges start the new course. This calls for identifying and planning employment potential for these professionals in various healthcare establishments in the country. It seems that Central government has not made any planning before starting this six years advanced course. The new rule like Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 do seek to enhance the role of pharmacists by mandating drug dispensing as prerogative of pharmacists only. It also make it obligatory on state governments to appoint one pharmacy inspector in each district of every state. But many of the state governments are yet to adopt PPR. The state governments also have to create posts of clinical pharmacists in primary and community health centres besides district hospitals to ensure strict implementation of Schedule H drugs. India accounts for 5.2 million health injuries annually on account of medication errors, irrational use of medicines and adverse drug reactions. For effective detection and assessing adverse drug reactions on a regular basis, pharmacists have a key role to play. Creation of a comprehensive ADR data bank for drugs marketed in the country is extremely important for a country like India. Progress of countrywide collection of ADR data has been rather slow so far with inadequate number of monitoring centres and staff. And there are very few pharmacy professionals appointed by the Union health ministry and state health departments for this kind of work. It is high time, the Union health ministry took initiative in addressing these issues so that effective employment of pharmacists can also be taken care of.