Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: An Indian Perspectives

The general population in India usually will say that Pharmacy is a medical store or a place where you buy your medicines. Most people do not think about Pharmacy as a profession.

The word “Pharmacy” is derived from the Greek word ‘PHARMAKON’, meaning a ‘drug‘ or a ‘medicine’. Pharmacy is a health profession that has the responsibility for ensuring the safe, effective and rational use of medicines. Pharmacy revolves around medicines and their users (i.e. patient) with special emphasis on the development and manufacture of medicines, their supply, proper use and therapeutic effects. The ultimate concern of pharmacy is to ensure that the patient receives the appropriate medicines and benefits from the proper use of these medicines.

Therefore, Pharmacy is an essential part of the healthcare system.  It is a profession that focuses on improving the quality of people’s lives.

What is Pharmacy (as a profession)?

Pharmacy is the art and science of preparing and dispensing medications and the provision of medicine-related information to the public (Source – Remington: The science and practice of pharmacy). It is a health profession based on the chemical, biological and medical sciences. It is concerned with the design, evaluation, production and use of medicines and the provision of medicine related information to the public (Source

Pharmacy generally is a professional academic program for students wishing to become registered or licensed pharmacists. It is a diploma (also degree) program that prepares students upon successful completion to be eligible for registering and become registered pharmacists.

Pharmacists: Having obtained a Diploma in Pharmacy (D. Pharm.) or a Degree in Pharmacy (B. Pharm.) and recently a Pharm. D., you are only able to practice as a pharmacist when you are registered with the State Pharmacy Council (registered pharmacists).

The registration of pharmacist is governed by the Pharmacy Act, 1948. Being a registered pharmacist you are obligated to abide by the laws that govern pharmacy practice in India, demonstrate good ethical and professional responsibilities towards discharging your duties.

Who are Pharmacists?

Persons who are professionally qualified and licensed to practice in a community pharmacy or in a hospital are pharmacists. They are health care professionals whose professional responsibilities and accountabilities include seeking to ensure that people derive maximum therapeutic benefit from their treatments with medicines (FIP Statement) including their chemistry, their formulation into medicines, and the ways they are used to manage diseases.

Pharmacists: Your partner in health. A pharmaceutical expertise or other words pharmacist is able to comprehend:

  • How and why medicines work
  • How they are developed, formulated and administered
  • How they are used in the treatment of disease or ailments
  • How to promote safe and proper use of medicines

Pharmacy Academic Program:

To study Pharmacy you will need to first build a strong foundation in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The pharmaceutical sciences combine a broad range of scientific disciplines that are critical to the discovery and development of new drugs and therapies.

Pharmaceutical Sciences deals with the scientific basis of the physical, chemical, biological and the medical aspects of medicines.

Pharmacy profession in India comprises of industrial, practice and other sectors.

1) Industrial Pharmacists work in the pharmaceutical industry with other disciplines in producing medicines of the highest quality and safety. Their works are not in direct contact with patients, yet contribute to the health care sector.

Industrial Pharmacists research drug compounds and develop new medications. They test medications for efficiency and safety to ensure medications are produced accurately, and they engage marketing and promoting new drugs to consumers. An industrial pharmacist may also be responsible for conducting clinical drug trials to evaluate a drug’s effectiveness and to determine potential risks or side effects.

2) Practicing Pharmacists work in the community and in hospitals as members of the health care team and have special responsibilities for the use of medicines, and in general in direct contact with the patients.

Practicing Pharmacists are close contact with patients and so have an important role both in assisting patients to make the best use of prescribed medicines and in advising on the appropriate self-management of self-limiting minor conditions. Pharmacists are also in a close working relationship with other members of health care team – doctors, nurses, dentists – where they are able to give advice on a wide range of issues surrounding the use of medicines.

3) Other sectors – Drug regulation,  Drug quality control, Academia, Research and Development.

Major areas of pharmaceutical sciences 

(1) Pharmaceutics: The word ‘pharmaceutics’ is used in pharmacy to encompass many subject areas that are all associated with the steps to which a drug is subjected towards the end of its development. Pharmaceutics is the study of relationships between drug formulation, delivery, disposition and clinical response. Put at its simplest – pharmaceutics converts a potential drug into an effective medicine that can be administered to a patient in a safe and convenient manner. (Drug – A substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease or as a component of a medication).

Pharmaceutics, therefore, is concerned with the scientific and technological aspects of the design and manufacture of dosage forms. It is the most diverse of all the subject areas in pharmaceutical sciences and encompasses the following:

  • Physical pharmaceutics – Study of the basic physical chemistry necessary for the efficient design of dosage forms (dosage form is defined as a system for carrying drugs)
  • Bio-pharmaceutics – Study of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of drugs following administration
  • Dosage form design – Design and formulation of medicines
  • Pharmaceutical technology – Manufacture of these medicines
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology – Study of the avoidance and elimination of microorganisms in medicines.
  • Drug delivery Systems – It is an intra-disciplinary field of pharmaceutics that covers the precise delivery of drugs to the body using principles of biomaterials and device technology

(2) Pharmacology: It is the study of the effects of drugs on the functioning of living systems. i.e. It is the science of drugs, including their composition, uses, and effects. Falling within the purview of pharmaceutical sciences, Pharmacology focuses on exactly how drugs work (i.e. mechanism of action) and what kinds of reactions certain drugs cause in our bodies, and how they are used therapeutically. Following are various sub-areas:

  • Anatomy (the study of the structure of organisms and their parts)
  • Pathology (study of examination of organ and tissue to make diagnosis);
  • Physiology (scientific study of function in living systems);
  • Biochemistry (is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms);
  • Molecular biology (molecular basis of biological activity)

(3) Pharmacognosy: It is defined as “the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs or drug substances of natural origin (Natural Drugs) as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources”.

Pharmacognosy is the study of natural product molecules that are useful for their medicinal, ecological, gustatory, or other functional properties.

Within the field of pharmacognosy, many diverse and exciting areas are being studied, including:

  • the study of the medicinal properties of natural products, for the purposes of drug discovery;
  • the development and use of analytical methods for quality control of natural products in the marketplace;
  • the study of the use of traditional remedies by native cultures;
  • the microscopic evaluation and species verification of medicinal or economically important natural products;

(4) Pharmaceutical Chemistry is an interdisciplinary field that deals with synthesis, design, structure activity relation, analysis, assay and purity quantification of drugs as chemical compounds. It is the chemistry of drugs and of medicinal and pharmaceutical products. Pharmaceutical Chemistry is applied in the preparation, synthesis, and standardization, interpretation of drug interactions and analysis of chemical substance for medicinal use.

The fundamental concepts and principles in organic, inorganic, physical, medicinal and analytical chemistry are applied to drugs and pharmaceuticals and then relate these concepts to drug synthesis, manufacturing and quality assurance in the practice of pharmacy.

(5) Pharmaceutical jurisprudence (or Forensic pharmacy): It derives from the Latin term juris prudentia, which means “the study, knowledge, or science of law.” The knowledge of pharmaceutical jurisprudence is indispensable in any walk of pharmaceutical profession.

It is the study of rules and regulations of pharmacy, pharmacy practice, and relating to drugs and pharmaceuticals.


About subalcbasak

I am an Associate Professor of pharmacy at Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, Chidambaram,Tamilnadu. I am a person who is interested in pharmaceutical sciences and its education in India. Originally from West Bengal, I am now living in CHIDAMBARAM, Tamilnadu. I just want to share some of my subject basics; and thoughts associated with travelling and living. I also enjoy clicking camera, eating bengali cuisine, listening Rabindra sangeet, reading, learning, and open source of literature/publications.
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