Dr. Guru Prasad Mohanta
The Indian pharmaceutical companies continue expanding their base despite the slow down. The pharmaceutical industries in India seem to be more stable compared to other industries and they would continue with their impressive performance.
According to available figures the size of the Indian Pharmaceutical industries is poised to grow from Rs. 30,200 crore in 2007 to Rs. 33,500 crore in 2008 and further to Rs. 140, 000 crore in 2020. India is known as pharmacy of the whole world especially to third world countries. The country exports pharmaceuticals to more than 200 countries including USA, Russia, Germany, United Kingdom and Brazil. India is the leading supplier of AIDS drugs to the world. Pharmaceutical exports (valued in US dollar terms) registered an impressive growth rate at 30.7 % terms during April – October 2008 compared to corresponding period in the previous year. This growth further increases to 38.5 % when valued in rupees terms. Not withstanding the fears of a global recession, pharma exports are expected to grow by 25.2 % in 2008-2009. The Department of Pharmaceuticals estimated to have creation of 5 lakh new jobs within next four years involving investment of Rs. 5,000-10,000 crore through public – private partnership model.
Drug approvals given to Indian pharmaceutical firms were 30% of total generic approvals given by USA Drug Regulatory Authority (USFDA) in 2008 while the share was 26.5 % in 2007. The trend is likely to continue as Indian companied account for 35 % of all Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approvals given by USFDA in first two months of 2009. ANDA is an application for a generic drug approval for an existing licensed medication or an approved drug. With over US dollar worth 47 billion drugs are expected to go off patent by 2011, promising further growth in generic medicine market.
Pharmaceutical industries usually employ pharmacy graduates and post graduates for most of the operations. The various activities include manufacturing, quality control (including quality assurance), and distribution (marketing). The expertise required to perform all these activities are usually the course programme of Pharmaceutical Sciences or Pharmaceutical Technology. Pharma being knowledge based industry; special skills are required for all these operations or activities. The available career opportunities for pharmacy graduates in pharmaceutical industries and government/private sector include:
- As Manufacturing Chemist (called as competent technical staff): under whose active direction and personal supervision manufacturing of medicines takes place. The pharmaceutical production companies need such persons to obtain license for manufacturing. Graduates of pharmacy with 18 months of experience in manufacturing are treated as competent technical staff under Drugs and Cosmetics Act which regulates the Drug Industries. This job of looking after manufacturing of medicines is very interesting and responsible. There are scopes of promotion too to the highest position as works manager or factory manager.
- In Quality Control/Quality Assurance: Quality Assurance is a total process for assuring the quality of pharmaceutical products as per standard specified in National or other approved pharmacopoeias. Quality Assurance is a component of Quality Assurance programme which deals with checking of representative samples of production to find out their compliance with standards. The graduates with aptitude in analysis of pharmaceuticals and handling of sophisticated instruments find the job interesting. There are promotional scopes too from Quality Control chemists to Quality Assurance Manager.
There are private and independent drug testing laboratories too. The graduate pharmacist can join these laboratories as analyst.
- In Marketing: Pharmaceutical marketing is different from marketing of other consumer goods. Here, real consumer, the patient, has little or no choice. The marketing takes place through doctors and chemists. Thus the job is more challenging and requires special skill and training as they deal with highly qualified doctors in one hand and the professional business man (often called drug trader in common terminology). This is a never saturating professional area and jobs are available always. The sales personal are called as medical representatives or business executives. They can grow from medical representatives to general manager.
- In regulatory affairs: The medicines are not only required to be effective but must be safe and of assured quality. In order to assure efficacy, safety and quality, the entire pharmaceutical scenario, from manufacturing to sale of medicines, is regulated by the central and state government through a process of licensing and inspecting. The pharmaceutical graduates can join the government services usually through public service commission as Drugs Inspectors. They have promotional scopes to grow up to the rank of Drugs Controller.
- As Hospital Pharmacists: The pharmacists in hospitals do wide range of functions ranging from procurement of medicines to dispensing to the patients. In short they are responsible for medicine management in the hospitals. Though legally Diploma in Pharmacy qualification is sufficient for medicine dispensing, the degree pharmacists are preferred in procurement system in government sector and service sector in corporate hospitals. The promotional scope in this sector is limited.
- As Community Pharmacist (working in Drug Store or Retail Pharmacy): Our medical systems are well developed and are on par with any developed country. But this community pharmacy sector is still in primitive stage. In western countries community pharmacists are well paid and many of pharmacists who have migrated to UK or USA work in community pharmacy. The scenario of community pharmacy now started changing in India too. Many chain stores are entering into the market. Diploma in Pharmacy qualified pharmacists. Like hospital pharmacy sector, the graduate pharmacists too started entering into the retail business as entrepreneur. Self owning pharmacy in a good location not only gives good revenues but also provides ample opportunities to provide professional pharmaceutical services to the consumers. A license from the state Drugs Control Authority is necessary start a retail pharmacy business.
- As Government Analyst: The medicines that have been sampled either from manufacturing units or retail drug stores are tested in government drug testing laboratories. The graduate pharmacists can join these government laboratories as government analyst. But the graduate pharmacists do need to under go training on testing of drugs under a government analyst or in approved laboratories.
The above career opportunities belong to the traditional spheres of employment in pharmaceutical sectors. The pharmaceutical industries have changed over the years. New field of activities like clinical trials, contract research, new drug development, newer drug delivery systems etc. have emerged. The corresponding demands for higher qualifications like postgraduates in Pharmacy in different disciplines and doctorate degree have increased. Today pharmaceutical companies need highly expertise professionals who can face global challenge.
The Author is
Professor of Pharmacy
P. O. Annamalai Nagar – 608 002,
Tamil Nadu, India;