‘I urge upon all budding pharmacists to come together and work for the community’

Dr Shailendra Saraf, Chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC), Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC), in an interaction with Prathiba Raju, provides information about the 69th IPC and how it will provide professionals from academic and industry a platform to discuss and come up with solutions to improve the quality of pharma products

How is the 69th IPC Congress unique and different from previous editions, which is hosted by Association of Pharmacy Teachers of India (APTI) along with Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA)?

Dr Shailendra Saraf

The quality of the manufactured products has always been a matter of concern worldwide. The theme of IPC 2017, ‘Skill and will to make quality pill’ is unique in the context to envision the importance of quality and safe medicines. Moreover, the topic was selected in line with the skill India mission of government of India. Focus of the current congress would be on exploring new avenues in capacity building, critical monitoring and evaluation of pharmaceutical products to produce quality medications for universal use by patients in need. This congress would provide an opportunity to professionals from academic and industry sectors to discuss and come up with solutions to improve the quality of pharma products.

Any particular reason for choosing the theme to be ‘Skill and Will to Make and Serve Quality Pill’

To improve the quality of products, key prerequisite is knowledgeable and skillful manpower. The theme was selected in view of the need to showcase the capabilities of Indian pharma industry as a provider of quality medicines at affordable prices; capabilities of skilled pharmacy professionals in India and Indian regulators to ensure standards for safe and efficacious medicines. This IPC will provide industry personals, academicians, researchers, and regulatory authorities a single platform, which will definitely help to brush-up their skills and receive motivation to prepare quality medicines.

Why do you think pharma education needs focus? How will this focus help boost the overall pharma industry?

The pharma industry has always been developing and sprouting themselves to compete at international level for quality and standards. Academic education always lags behind in terms of the methods of analysis and manufacturing of formulations owing to limited monetary resources. Meetings like IPC provide unique opportunity to pharma educationalists to interact with industrial and regulatory professionals and allow them to acquaint them with recent technologies through pharma expo. It would help academicians to look into their curriculum and incorporate content beyond syllabus as per the current need of the industries. This will further facilitate the creation of skilled and knowledgeable manpower to meet the demand of pharma industry. Thus, it will be a boost for the growth and development of pharma industry.

How many scientific research papers will be presented in the 69th IPC Congress?

People from different pharma fields have shown great enthusiasm towards IPC 2017. I am very glad to state that we received around 2450 abstracts this year. Out of which, 1950 abstracts have been selected through peer review by expert committee for the presentation in various sessions.

How many pharmacy students will participate? What message would you like to convey to the student community?

I would like to proudly mention that around 9000-10000 delegates will participate in this congress with around 8500 registrations. The registered delegates mainly include UG and PG students, research scholars, academicians, pharmacists and industry professionals. Pharmacy is an interesting and ever-changing field. An intriguing aspect of this profession is the wide spectrum of opportunities available. So, I urge upon all budding pharmacists to come together and work for the community.

Do you think there is enough emphasis made to bridge the gap between industry and academia? How much can the IPC Congress help in this endeavour?

This time we have arranged an assortment of invited talks by the experts from pharma industry and academics. It will certainly help young pharmacy professionals. They will be updated on the recent advances as well as trends and opportunities related to the pharma industry. Further, we are going to arrange state-of-the-art and one of the best professional exhibitions to showcase new innovations in pharma machinery, laboratory equipment etc., from India and overseas. This time, we have also arranged placement drive and also training opportunities by the pharma industry for UG and PG students. I sincerely think that these efforts will definitely help to bridge the gap between industry and academia.

Being the Chairman of LOC, can you tell us what would be the major issues discussed at 69th IPC?

The major focus of the discussion during this congress would be on;

  • Measures to improve the quality of pharma products
  • Improving quality of pharmacy education in India
  • Generation of skilled manpower
  • Possible paths to establish the conduit between pharma academic institutes and industries
  • Production of indigenous API for pharma industry.

When we talk about higher education in pharmacy, many students opt to go abroad like Ireland, China, Malaysia and US. Is there not enough opportunity here in India?

I do not agree with the statement completely as pharmacy education in India has grown exponentially and we have a number of good educational institutes, which are catering to the need of our country. It is fulfilling the dynamic need of the world leading pharma industries, regulatory authorities, pharma research and academics. Yes some of students are moving out of country for higher education specifically for PhD and post doctoral studies. But the current scenario is inverting from the previous situation as people are coming back to the country due to better opportunities available on the home front.

The dual control of pharmacy education by Pharmacy Council of India and All India Council for Technical Education has been an issue for a long time and it is affecting quality and prospects of pharmacy professionals for some time now. Your comments.

Yes, the dual regulation of pharmacy education is creating hardship for pharmacy profession in general and educators in particular. The Pharmacy Council of India is empowered by the act to regulate the pharmacy profession in India and can register pharmacy graduates to work as pharmacy professionals. The Pharmacy Council of India is making all round efforts to resolve the problem and we are hopeful that very soon the problem will be resolved.