Only large hospitals in private sector employ clinical pharmacists
Drug dispensation for drug administration is the job of a specialist who is part of the healthcare system. And, it is the duty of a clinical pharmacist to ensure that the right dose of medicine is administered to patients at the right time, according to Nobil Skaria, general secretary, Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) Postgraduate Students and Parents Association.
Even as the State has several pharmacy colleges producing Pharm D graduates, they have no employment opportunities in the government sector.
Only large hospitals employ clinical pharmacists, said Dr. Skaria. But there is an urgent need for clinical pharmacists in the government sector as doctors are left to manage a large number of patients.
Around 500 clinical pharmacists work in the private sector.
The government should give serious thought to the matter as it will go a long way in bringing down medication errors considerably, said Ravi S. Menon, State Drugs Controller.
Pharm D students study the whole canvas of a drug from the effect it makes in the body, its adverse reactions, how a particular drug dosage could harm rather than cure, or why a drug is less effective if taken with certain food items and so on, said Mr. Menon.
Clinical pharmacists are part of the drug dispensing system of any healthcare institution in most countries abroad, he added.
Mr. Menon believes that with the help of clinical pharmacists the government can perhaps begin prescription auditing, adverse drug reaction monitoring, and optimum use of medicines, thereby bringing down expenses by introducing them in medical colleges.
Even as the Pharmacy Council of India had introduced the Pharm D course in 2008, and as many as 21 colleges in the self-financing sector started offering it in 2010, the healthcare industry has not opened up opportunities for the specialised group, observed Dr. Skaria.
Usually, the work of a clinical pharmacist starts soon after the doctor prescribes a drug, he said. It is the duty of the clinical pharmacist in each department to check that there is no double dosage (in case of any previous prescription) or additional prescription of another doctor and to re-check the dosage in concurrence with the doctor. The time of taking a drug is equally important as drugs have certain peaks.
Around 300 clinical pharmacists graduate every year. But they get job opportunities only in big hospitals, or they have to go abroad to practise, said Dr. Skaria.
The government takes in only pharmacists and drug inspectors who graduate with B. Pharm and M.Pharm degrees, while Pharm D holders have practically no opportunities.
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