The science of Pharmacy is known as art and science of making and administering drugs and happens to be as old as the human civilization. Physicians in ancient times like Hippocrates and Charkha are known to have prepared and administered self concocted medicines and potions. In India, even in the recent past, indigenous medical practitioners used to maintain their own dawakhanas equivalent of modern pharmacies. This scene changed after introduction of modern medical care in the country during the colonial rule which saw the popularization of use of the modern drugs, initially imported from abroad. Employing local skills, technology and resources, the first pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the country was started in 1901 with the establishment of Bengal Chemicals

The science of Pharmacy has since travelled a long distance and today pharmacy is reckoned as a versatile, dynamic and a growth oriented multifaceted discipline. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the layman pharmacist is still perceived as a salesman doling out tablets and injections. The scope of the pharmaceutical science, however, extends over a very wide spectrum from the laboratory stage of drug discovery and development phase to manufacture, packaging, marketing, retail dispensing to drug use and misuse in health and disease. Elsewhere in this bulletin, job opportunities for pharmacists in drug industry, research institutions / laboratories, drug enforcement agencies and contribution in the health care delivery have been summarized.

Emerging as a rapidly growing front running enterprise, the drug industry in India does not only meet the internal demands of the country but also exports bulk drugs and finished products across the entire global canvas including in highly quality conscious and restrictive markets in North America and Europe. Presently, the country has 270 large manufacturing companies in MNC/Government/ Private sector with another 5600 medium and small sector units manufacturing drugs worth $ 30 billion annually and exporting a third of its produce to the world market. The industry during previous years notched a growth rate of over 9% despite an overall economic slackness.

Pharmacists constitute a single largest group of professionals employed by the industry with pay packages comparable to medical and engineering graduates. At senior level, the compensations are no less than that offered in IT industry, service sector, engineering or financial enterprises. At the other end of the spectrum, it is the health sector that offers divesrse and challenging job opportunities to the pharmacist. Traditionally, pharmacist is the first health professional contact for patients in the community in this country who advises and adminsters drugs for minor ailments in a more friendly and acceptable environment. However, the scenario has now considerably exapnded with pharmacists assisting physicians in search for new drugs, advising them on optimal drug usage, managing hospital formulates, stores management and dispensing units, monitoring adverse drug reactions besides manning the State, National and International Regulatory agencies.

The State Government has lately realized availability of varied and large quantum of untapped medicinal plant wealth and high employement potential associated with drug industry. The Government has been quick in its well thought out response of extending concessions like tax holiday,excise duty refund and ensuring of availibility of cheap capital, which has reflected in setting up of manufacturing units in the State by several MNC Companies and large Indian ethical Drug Manufacturers, thus opening up job market for trained pharmacy graduates and postgraduates hereto nonexistent in the State.

The health sector is also expected to witness a large scale demand for pharmacy professiomals in the state as a spin off from the implementation of new Drug Policy and demand expected to be created by, setting up of AIIMS and super-speciality hospitals in the public sector and coming up of corporate healthcare facilities in the State. It is expected the retail drug trade in the State will also witness a welcome change with permeation of professionalism in pharmacy practice with the availibility of qualified and trained personnel.

The introduction of pharmacy education in the State surely happens to be a milestone and a big leap forward in the industrialization scene and healthcare delivery in the State besides its contribution in opening up a new job market for our youth.

Dr. R. K. Raina MD.,FAIMS.,FIPS.,
FIMSA Managing Trustee
Director Madr e-Vehartoar Campjt
of Health Science*, Jammu