Pharmaceutical Education and Pharmacy Practice

Harkishan Singh

The inception of modern pharmaceutical education in India is traced to later part of the nineteenth century. The credit for this goes to the Madras Medical College.

A pharmacy class was started at the College in 1860, but it was not for producing professional pharmacists but for providing instructions in the subject to the students qualifying for medical diploma, medical degree, apothecary grade, and hospital assistant grade. The apothecaries and hospital assistants had medico-pharmaceutical functions and were not practicing pharmacists. At the College, at the time there was no provision for training chemists and druggists, but there was a plan, in existence since 1852, for examination of any chemists and druggists who might have been desirous of presenting themselves for the purpose.

The term 'chemist and druggist' was borrowed from Britain where the title was in use. There, by the middle of the nineteenth century these professionals were scientifically trained. It Based on Invited Lecture delivered at the Symposium: Pharmaceutical Education in India: Past, Present and Future, Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, Delhi, 12-14 December 2008 did not take too long for creation of the chemists and druggists' class at the Madras Medical College. It is not possible, however, to commit upon the exact year of its start.

I have carefully researched at the Tamil Nadu Archives at Chennai and the Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library at London where a lot of material on Madras Medical College is available, but I have been unable to ascertain a definite year of start of this class; it is certain, however, that the class was instituted during 1870s. In an undocumented article by Srinivasa Varadan, it was surmised that the course started 'round about the year, 1874. In the absence any other evidence we may accept 1874 as the year of inception of the class at Madras.

In the chronological order the start of the pharmaceutical education at Goa may have preceded. At this stage, the only available source of information is an undocumented article by Cordeiro, wherein it was stated that 'with the doctors coming from Portugal, there was always a pharmacist. In the year 1846 a Medical School was opened and in the same school there was a School of Pharmacy.’6 For confirming veracity of this general statement, there is a need for in-depth research about the state of the profession and education in pharmacy in the Portuguese possessions in colonial India. The same also requires to be done for French colonial possessions of the time. I would have liked to do it but my lack of knowledge of the Portuguese and French languages comes in the way of my studies on the subject. 


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