The Changing Face of Pharmacy Education

Nitya Anand

Abstract: The Pharmacy profession by definition, tradition and practice has been connected with and responsible for compounding, dispensing and supply of drugs. In earlier days when the number of drugs was small, the therapeutic range was limited and all the products were not well defined and characterized, the compounding was often carried by not so well-trained Compounders/Pharmacists. But gradually as the importance of the quality of drugs on therapeutic outcome started being realized and emphasized, some training courses for compounders & pharmacists started being developed in different countries and some regulatory mechanisms initiated to ensure that compounding was carried out by trained pharmacists. These developments gradually got transformed to well structured and recognized special training courses for pharmacists in professional and academic institutions, leading to a Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm.), Bachelor and Masters in Pharmacy (B. Pharm. & M. Pharm.) and more recently Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharma D) has been added, which enlarged the scope of pharmaceutical science. The course work included a fair amount of exposure to drugs and pharmacy related physico-chemical, biological and medical sciences and practices, though the main emphasis was on compounding, dispensing and distribution of drugs. However, there have been revolutionary advances in drug discovery and development from around 1930 resulting in vast increase in the numbers and therapeutic range of new drugs and their ready-to-dispense formulations. There have also been equally revolutionary scientific advances in biological sciences since 1950’s resulting in stunning advances in the sciences of genomics, proteomics and lipidomics which have also strongly impacted on pharmaceutical sciences by widening the scope of drug design, discovery and development and their usage. These advances have totally changed the picture of pharmacy practice and pharmaceuticals development.

The pharmacy practice is no more compounding & dispensing oriented but primarily patient-centered to deliver the benefits of new drugs and therapeutic regimes to the patients under proper consultation to ensure that the patients get maximum benefits from the available therapeutic agents. Similarly the scope of the pharmaceutical sciences has been greatly enlarged and it has become highly multidisciplinary. These developments do underline the need for strong interaction between pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacy practices. Fig 1 gives an illustrative picture of the emerging interface between pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences.

The different subjects needed for the development of pharmaceutical products are shown on the right side of Fig. 1. The herbal medicines of Traditional Medicine Systems serve a dual purpose; they provide a useful source for development of phytopharmaceuticals, of course after thorough pharmacological & chemical studies and appropriate standardization and they also provide important leads for medicinal chemists for development of new drugs. Further Traditional Medicine Systems are an important national heritage and it is important for students to be exposed to their knowledge, strengths & weaknesses. It may be pointed out that there is a misconceived notion that traditional system drugs required only elementary studies to become suitable.



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