The National Pharmacy Commission Bill 2023: A Closer Look at Education vs. Profession

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In a significant development, the proposed National Pharmacy Commission Bill 2023 is causing ripples within the pharmaceutical community. Dr. BR Jagashetty, former National Adviser (Drugs Control) to the Union health ministry and former Karnataka State Drugs Controller, sheds light on the potential shift in focus from the profession to education in this groundbreaking legislative change.

National Pharmacy Commission Bill

The Shift Towards Education
The forthcoming National Pharmacy Commission Bill, positioned to replace the Pharmacy Act of 1948, appears to prioritize learning, knowledge, and academic pursuits over the practical or professional aspects of the pharmacy field. Dr. Jagashetty expresses concern that the bill may lean excessively towards educational perspectives, potentially sidelining the expertise and insights of qualified pharmacy professionals.

The Composition Dilemma
Dr. Jagashetty highlights a critical concern regarding the composition of the Search-cum-Selection Committee and the three boards proposed by the bill. These boards, namely the Pharmacy Education Board, Pharmacy Assessment and Rating Board, and Pharmacy Ethics and Registration Board, are predominantly led by educationalists and government officials, with minimal representation from the qualified pharmacy fraternity.

The absence of representatives from state chapters, eminent pharmacists representing each state, and entities like the Central Drug Laboratory (CDL) is deemed as a significant gap in the bill’s structure.

The Call for Inclusion
Dr. Jagashetty advocates for the inclusion of pharmacy professionals in line with the existing Pharmacy Act of 1948. The bill, as it stands, lacks representation from practicing pharmacy professionals, state Pharmacy Council chiefs, senior retail pharmacy representatives, and regulatory workforce. This absence raises concerns about the effectiveness of enforcing and monitoring regulations.

Oversight and Future Perspectives
Expressing disappointment, Dr. Jagashetty notes that the draft lacks provisions for the presence of registered pharmacists across retail outlets. Additionally, there is no mention of actions to be taken in case of dispensing certain medicines in the absence of a registered pharmacist, a vital aspect covered in the existing Pharmacy Act.

The bill’s failure to acknowledge the crucial role of pharmacists in the public health mainstream is seen as a considerable oversight. Dr. Jagashetty emphasizes the need for a forward-looking approach, especially considering India’s standing as the pharmacy hub of the world. Instead, the bill appears to fall short in supervising regulations effectively.

As discussions around the National Pharmacy Commission Bill 2023 continue, it is evident that striking the right balance between education and the practicalities of the pharmacy profession is crucial for the future of the pharmaceutical landscape in India. Stay tuned for further insights into this evolving legislative landscape.

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