IN January 2010, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) came out with a policy circular (view top section of the image) stating that the Master of Pharmacy programme offered by universities has not been approved by the Pharmacy Council, and hence MS programmes are not approved by the PCI for the purpose of registration as a pharmacist under the Pharmacy Act to practice the profession OR any other purpose such as teaching in approved pharmacy institutions.
When NIPER students and faculty protested, PCI came up with an even stranger press release (view bottom section of the image), which while reiterating the fact that MS programme is unapproved, PCI has not even considered the quality or otherwise of the MS programmes offered by NIPER.
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Why this ostrich mentality?
According to Prof. Ramanathan, a renowned pharma scholar, this indicates a complete abdication of responsibility by the PCI. While it is well within its rights to say a programme cannot be approved as a requirement to practise a profession (in this case pharmacy), it needs to apply its mind and come out with a cogent argument as to why it is so. The learned professor’s contention is that the PCI cannot just wash its hands off by saying a degree does not come under its purview.
Affected students concur wholeheartedly. The denial or registration as a pharmacist does not rankle them so much. Ajesh (name changed), a student, dismisses it saying it is immaterial as the eligibility of MS is a B.Pharm, which is an approved degree. What matters is being denied an opportunity to teach in a pharmacy college. According to Prof.Ramanathan, the least that the PCI could do is to draw up equivalence between an MPharm and MS and see if the programme meets up to the standard. But the outright refusal to consider it smacks of intolerance, he says.
What is the way out?
It has been two years since the programmes were launched. At least one batch would have passed out. It is high time the PCI gets on with the business of engaging with multiple academic offerings. World over professional bodies prescribe the relevant skills and knowledge that will make one eligible to practise a profession. One could achieve and show proof of competency, through multiple means. So whether it is an MS or MPharm degree, if the programme meets the standards set it must be approved.
Our repeated efforts to get a response from PCI were in vain. Careers360 has filed an RTI to PCI seeking its stand on the matter. We will take this up in the coming months so that students who have put in two years of study are not left in the lurch for no fault of theirs.
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