With an aim to cope up with acute shortage of pharmacists in the state, Bihar Chemists and Druggists Association (BCDA) has urged Prime Minister Office to take steps to ensure that experienced non-pharmacist medical store owners get short-term skill training making them qualified to run the stores.
There are around 40,000 drug stores in Bihar and pharmacists are approximately half of it. The main reason for shortage of pharmacists is dearth of pharmacy colleges in the state, said Parsan Kumar Singh, president of BCDA.
At present, two pharmacy institutes – Government Pharmacy Institute in Patna (GPIP) and Bihar College of Pharmacy (BCP) in Patna – are the major source of pharmacy education in the state. The Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology (MIT) has a pharmacy department running B Pharm with an intake of 15 students.
As per Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, every medical store needs to employ a pharmacist for drug distribution. Due to the acute shortage of pharmacists, we are left with no option but to manage drug stores with freelance pharmacists. Some of the drug store owners have hired pharmacists from neighbouring states to run their stores. Most of the drug stores are located in far-flung and tribal areas in the state where it is extremely difficult to get pharmacists, said Singh.
Hence, we have written to PMO to look into the issue and initiate requisite steps to enable experienced non-pharmacist drug store owners to run their business through short-term skill training programme. On the completion of training, certificates should be given to them. No participants should be allowed to rent certificates, he said.
We have also appealed to Bihar chief minister that no medical stores with valid retail licences would be harassed in the name of pharmacists unless sufficient number of them are available in the state.
BCDA and Bihar Chamber of Commerce have time and again urged state and Central governments to come out with a practical solution to ensure that chemists should not be suffered due to shortage of pharmacist in the state.
Last year All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) and Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) had come together to develop skill training programme for those working in drug stores without any pharmacy qualification enabling them to work as pharmacy assistants. But, the programme could not see light of the day because of Pharmacy Council of India’s objection.
As part of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), HSSC with the cooperation of National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) is partnering with healthcare industry leaders representing both public and private sector in providing skill training to healthcare professionals in the allied healthcare space.
In 1995 the Central government had initiated steps to set up a committee to develop short-term training module for those working in drug store without a pharmacy qualification. The initiative could not materialise due to PCI’s opposition.