Pharmacist the ‘aPostroPhe’ of the health Profession

A Proud Pharmacist – even in unprecedented times!


The apostrophe character is a punctuation mark, and sometimes a diacritical mark, and serves two basic functions; they show possession and indicate letters have been removed to form a contraction. The apostrophe probably causes more grief than all the other punctuation marks put together! The problem nearly always seems to stem from not understanding that the apostrophe has two very different (and very important) uses in English: possession and contractions.

The Pharmacist unfortunately has become the apostrophe of the health profession in the manner that he is the missing letter between the Physician and the Patient and all the time playing that missing role without being visible to either provider or the user. On the other hand, the Pharmacist also plays the role of ‘possession’ where his role is highly important in the healthcare conundrum as the guardian of medicines. Here too the problem stems from not understanding that pharmacist plays two different roles, one that of the invisible healthcare provider and the visible manufacturer of medicines. While we seek the recognition stemming out of a healthcare provider, the society gives us the recognition that of a provider of medicines (be it manufacture or sale). If the Pharmacy profession in India really needs to get its recognition in the healthcare team then we must play the visible role in being the bridge between the Physician and Patient.

Picture: Pixabay

In the present COVID Pandemic the pharmacists not only in India but even globally felt that they were not being recognised as an important ‘Frontline Warrior’ in the fight against coronavirus. The International Pharmaceutical federation (FIP) too, had to bring out a statement supporting the role of Pharmacists as Corona warriors. The Pharmacy Council of India too had conveyed to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India that the services of the pharmacist in the fight against the pandemic would be valuable to the nation and the Government of India in their ‘Covid warriors’ database has listed Pharmacists available state-wise whose services can be utilised by the governments and administrators at the time of need.

The Indian Pharmaceutical Industry and the Pharma sector was the cynosure of the world, for a change, for all good reasons. The Pharmaceutical industry clearly established its position as the reliable partner in healthcare needs and even went ahead and stated that the service to humanity is more important than the pricing of medications. They could easily connect with the vision of nation and its leader and strategized and raised to the occasion be it the manufacture of large volumes of Hydroxychloroquine and other antivirals or the efforts in the direction of development of vaccines and other immunomodulating therapies. The world strongly believes that perhaps India would be first to come out with an affordable vaccine against Coronavirus and towards that many industries have been driving their research as early as January 2020. The Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical scientists in the industry have kept the pride of the Indian pharma sector flying high all the time and have been getting the recognition as scientists and technocrats.

The ‘missing pharmacist’ in community pharmacy identified themselves as ‘chemists and traders’ and sought recognition from the government that the ‘chemists’ also be  recognised  as healthcare workers and be eligible for insurance. They also expressed concern about the medicines being delivered by ‘online Pharmacies’ through a tie up with shared platform of transport services such as Uber and Ola, as the ‘chemists’ are already doing home delivery of medicines as per the government orders. When ‘chemists’ are doing this wonderful job and the association of  chemists is  asking respect for  ‘Pharma trade’,  I don’t understand that how we expect  the  health profession  or the government or the patient to recognise us healthcare provider. If truly we seek recognition as health care provider,  we the ‘Pharmacists of India’ shed the shadow of ‘Chemist’ and ‘trader’ and make our presence visible in the community pharmacies as ‘Pharmacists’ rendering professional service in the healthcare conundrum.

The great comfort to the Pharmacy profession is the stellar role played by the regulatory officers of the country be it the CDSCO or the state drug control departments in working closely with all stakeholders and recommending to the government policies that decrease the degree of difficulty and ensure the continuous available of medicines for national and international appreciation and they truly deserve our appreciation. Similarly, the Hospital Pharmacists be it the Government sector or the private sector continued to provide their selfless services and where truly the pharmacists with their ‘white coats’ bringing respectability amongst the society about the role of Pharmacists in healthcare. The new generation pharmacists, the clinical pharmacists, were full of passion to raise to the occasion and use their clinical expertise in reaching out to the patients and creating awareness on the health advisory of the government and was recognised by the health profession and the community at large.

The unprecedented challenge was most for the academia in the pharmacy field. Unlike the other segments it was not slowdown that bothered them, but to suddenly transition from didactic teaching to digital teaching overnight. Though there was lots of scepticism associated with this, they responded remarkably well and made the disruption least felt by the students and continued to engage the students with their academics and also prevented them from their movements by holding them captive through their online classes, seminars, webinars and so on. Perhaps the productivity from the academia was the highest during this pandemic period. This clearly shows that ‘forced experimentation’ does yield good outcomes. My congratulations to all my academic colleagues for their wonderful response.

Perhaps it is time for us to resolve that –

We the Pharmacists of India having qualified ourselves as the “Pharmacist” under the Pharmacy Act, 1948 and practising the profession of Pharmacy resolve to

Serve the citizens of India with our knowledge, skill and expertise on medicines
Deliver Pharmaceutical care that ensures the efficacy and safety of medicines, besides
Promote among the pharmacist fraternity through selfless service and get due recognition
Uphold the dignity of the profession through our action, deed and words.

The Pharmacists of India declare that as a registered professional practitioner they will assure the health of  people of India by manufacturing quality medicines , dispensing right medicines and the right dose and counselling the patients on the safety of the medicine and it’s use and through this endeavour promote the dignity of the pharmacy profession and earn the respect of community.’

It is time now for us to shed the identity of ‘apostrophe’ and come to the fore to be visible and be aware of our roles.

A Proud Pharmacist – even in unprecedented times!

B Suresh
Dr. B Suresh, President, PCI

Prof. Suresh Bhojraj is President, Pharmacy Council of India, New Delhi. He is Pro Chan- cellor, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, for the past thirty years has been actively involved in uplifting the standards of pharmacy education and pro- He was elected in 2003 as the President of Pharmacy Council of India, the statutory body regulating the pharmacy education and profession in India. He was once again re-elected as the President of Pharmacy Council of India in August 2008 and August 2013. Dr. Suresh is also the del- egate member of the United States Pharmacopeia Convention and also the member of the Council of Convention of the USP. Prof. Suresh has also been President of IPA from 2008 – 2010