With the 67th IPC to be held in Mysuru, Dr B Suresh, Vice Chancellor, JSS University, Mysore and President, Pharmacy Council of India, in an interaction with Usha Sharma, talks about the event’s highlights
Tell us about the vision of the 67th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress?
The 67th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC) is being organised at JSS University, Mysuru between December 19-21, 2015. I have always considered IPC as the ‘Spirit of the Pharmacy Profession’!
With the theme of ‘Pharmacist for a Healthy India,’ the event will envisage on how pharmacists can play a leadership role in the country, promote and realise the vision of ‘Healthy India’ by 2025.
Strategies from all facets of the pharma sector will be discussed. The pharma industry with the regulatory authorities will discuss how to align themselves with industry standards and ensure that there is a recipe for the growth in the sector. The academia and students will focus on bringing about industry-academia interaction and also ensure quality in pharmacy education so as to prepare an industry ready pharma work force. The practicing pharmacists from the community and hospitals will deliberate on providing medicines to the patients and serve as a bridge between healthcare professionals and the patients to ensure that optimal and correct healthcare is delivered properly. All these initiatives will be in the form of round table discussions, symposia, plenary lectures and scientific poster presentations.
How many visitors are likely to participate?
We expect as many as 8000 delegates to participate in the event. About 2000 poster presentations will be held and nearly 72 speakers will participate in the three-day conference and deliver talks which will stimulate discussions and the scientific temper of the Congress.
Early this year, 66th IPC took place in Delhi and now it will be held in Mysuru, twice in the same year. This is going to create history in IPC. How do you feel about it?
I am excited because the organisers have given an opportunity to JSS University, Mysuru and have shifted their focus from tier I cities to tier-II cities. It will provide pharmacy professionals and students with an opportunity to showcase their talent in organising the event.
Since industry leaders and regulatory authorities from India and across the world will visit Mysuru, it will help to create a positive environment for the development of pharma sector in the region. T here will be challenges since expectations are high. This year, the event will be different from previous ones as leadership role will be provided by Dr GN Singh, President, IPC and Drugs Controller General (India) DCG(I) and myself. The limited resources that may be available in a tier-II city needs to be effectively managed and utilised in a proper way in order to make the event a successful one.
Scientific temper in the present environment and pharmacy education requires some breakthrough outcomes, that would emerge out of this meeting.
IPC will focus on improving the role of pharmacists in India. Which topics and issues are likely to be discussed at the forum?
The theme of the Congress is ‘Pharmacist for a Healthy India’ – Swasth Bharat. The congress will provide a vision to the country, defining how pharmacists can play a significant role in improving healthcare delivery in India. This would work out in a manner that the country’s vision of Swachch Bharat and Swasth Bharat as well as ‘Make in India’ is realised; the vision of start-up industries and Digital India is realised; and the objectives of affordable healthcare (Jan Aushadhi) and safe use of medicines (Pharmacogivilance) is realised.
Focusing on all these visions, a series of talks have been planned by leaders in the pharma industry, academia and the scientific community from India and abroad.
Some of the topics include;
- Current tech-trends that are shaping/impacting pharma industry,
- Transforming medicine: From bench to bedside and beyond,
- Pharmacy education: Lessons learnt and future directions,
- Academic leadership: Retrospect, reinvent and redesign
- Food, dietary supplement and nutraceuticals
- Leadership in providing pharma care through community pharmacy practice.
The 67th IPC will talk about the role of pharmacists in improving patient and health system outcomes through advanced pharmacy practice and help develop a ‘Healthy India – Swasth Bharat’ by 2025. What is the road map to achieve the target?
The vision and the road map has been discussed at various levels and a document will be soon presented at the event by Dr GN Singh, President of the Congress. After receiving the inputs from various stakeholders at the Congress, the document will be finalised.
The broad strategies proposed include:
- Industry and regulatory alignment for a new health economy,
- Defining pharma care and providing a pharma care policy to be adopted by the pharmacy practitioners (community and hospital) in their practice settings.
- Academic leadership that ensures that the pharmacists are competent to rise to the expectations of the healthcare delivery of the country.
- Inter-professional communication that would provide seamless care to the patient from physician to pharmacists and to the other health professionals (nurses, etc.) in the implementation of rational and safe use of medicines,
- The road map would envisage that the pharmacists at the practice setting who would be interacting with the patient on one hand and the physician on the other hand is competent, knowledgeable and accessible.
- Providing pharma care to pharmacists, both at community and hospital settings, will ensure that the patient receives the right dose of medicine at the right time.
- Pharmacists will serve as a counsellor and be part of the nation’s healthcare programmes. They will become the major source of dissemination of information and ensure a supply chain of medicine in the healthcare delivery.
Pharmacists play an important role in the Indian healthcare delivery system, however, they are facing several problems. Highlight their key problems and how can they be overcome?
Pharmacists in the healthcare delivery system play a significant role, which is quite often silent and behind the scene. This has not supported the growth of the pharmacy profession to the extent to which it would have normally grown if it was implemented in the manner as it is in the developed countries. It has resulted in pharmacists not being recognised by the healthcare profession as well as the society as a main link between the patient and the physician.
As a result, pharmacists are not being able to play the role which they should normally do and also not being adequately compensated for the services rendered by them. In this background, Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) took several steps to ensure that this anomaly is overcome by way of advocacy and also bringing in regulations that would support them. PCI has come up with Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 which provides empowerment as well as responsibilities associated with the pharmacists and also provisions for their suitable compensation. PCI ensures that pharmacists are provided with an ample opportunity to update their knowledge and skills and introduced B Pharm (Practice Regulations) 2015 which is the bridge course for working pharmacists with a Diploma in Pharmacy to upgrade and become a graduate in pharmacy besides understanding the advances that have taken place in the pharma sciences and practice. The PCI had also introduced PharmD Regulations 2008 to provide professionally specialised clinical pharmacists for offering care that is unique and supportive of healthcare delivery. The council continues to put its efforts to address difficulties faced by the pharmacists.
If the government gives the green signal for online pharmacies in India is it likely that the number of chemist shops would reduce? If yes, will it create job scarcity in the sector? Are we prepared to handle such a scenario?
Access to medicines is the right of a patient. Providing the right medicine with proper counselling is the responsibility of the pharmacists. As long as the patient has access to medicines and the pharmacist is delivering and providing associated counselling and pharma care, there should not be any major issue. We have to dispassionately look at the needs of the patient and ensure that these needs are provided by a competent person.
The role of pharmacists is not diluted in any manner, irrespective of the mode of delivery of such need and care. Hence, the scarcity of jobs should not be there and in fact would give rise to more job opportunities to be delivered in a manner that is more professional as you would be targeting a learned community to provide the said care and services.
Which new courses/ programmes do you plan to announce during the event?
Pharmacy Council of India will unveil a detailed curriculum for B Pharm and M Pharm courses, i.e. current, relevant and contemporary. Recommendations will be made to deliver the curriculum in semester/ annual system, which will be on a choice-based credit system. Suggestions will be made on extensive use of teaching-learning methodology that would rely on Information Communication Technology (ICT). It will help to stimulate the process of thinking and innovation in young minds rather than just learning or acquiring the basic skills that they would need their careers.
Which curriculum needs urgent upgradation and why?
The curriculum at both B Pharm and M Pharm level needs to be updated continuously. PCI has made regulations in B Pharm and M Pharm in a way where there is a provision for continuous updation of curriculum without regulatory hurdles. The council’s endeavour will be to provide the most current and relevant curriculum. Such an effort is needed as pharma sciences and practice are continuously evolving and the curriculum also needs to be dynamic.