Mumbai:The Maharashtra Pharmacists Association in a letter of disapproval shot to the Drugs Controller General of India(DCGI), has made its displeasure evident on the proposal of introducing a six month course for unqualified employees working at medical stores. Calling it unfair to those who have studied for four years to get their license and more importantly because of the great risk involved to patient lives. The proposal seems to have been initiated, keeping in view the thousands of unemployed youth, that work in pharmaceutical stores without a qualification.
The present qualification of a pharmacist under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 calls for a four year course or a one year diploma in pharmacy. While doing the course, they study subjects like pharmaceutics, pharmacology, patho physiology, and community pharmacy.
The government has now decided to introduce a refresher course to provide certification to unqualified members of the fraternity who have been working for five years at a pharmacy shop. Qualified pharmacist have however, given the following objections about why this new proposal should not be implemented:
- Will lead to mushrooming of unqualified pharmacists
- Would endanger patient lives due to errors made by these unqualified pharmacists; increase the antibiotic menace
- Affect employment opportunities for pharmacy graduates
- Increase disillusionment among the qualified pharmacists, for employment opportunities for them would diminish
“What is the point of studying for four years to become a pharmacist, if they can get a licence without even fulfilling the criteria? Many of the workers in medical shops haven’t even graduated,” said Vijay P Patil, President, Maharashtra State Pharmacy Council.
The Pharmacists Association has also raised objections against the President, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), Jagannath Shinde, who it is alleged is behind the proposal. Shinde, however, claims that he suggested it to the government with the view of giving employment to thousands of employees who will lose their jobs because they do not have the right qualifications.
“In UP and Bihar, DCGI had issued licenses to medical shops improperly. Now that everything has come online, they will rectify this. Being the head of an association that oversees 7 lakh medical shops across India, I have raised the issue that medical shop workers who have worked for decades need to be given an alternative source of income. But I haven’t asked for any amendment in rules that will affect pharmacists in Maharashtra,” said Shinde.
However, experts presenting their argument state that any such amendment will be applicable across all states and will create chaos in Maharashtra, which has innumerable qualified pharmacists .
Proposal implementation would mean, more than 2 lakh pharmacy graduates unemployed in Maharashtra, of which 50,000 are to be found in Mumbai alone.