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The government of India last January issued a notification entitled Pharmacy Practice Regulations 2015 aimed at enhancing the status and practice of pharmacy profession in the country. These regulations are the first comprehensive changes introduced to the outdated provisions in the laws governing the pharmacy practice. The pharmacy practice is currently regulated by the Pharmacy Act and Drugs & Cosmetics Act notified by the Central government several decades ago. The new set of Regulations of 2015 lay down a uniform code of pharmacy ethics, responsibilities of pharmacist towards patient, job requirements of a pharmacist, role of a community pharmacist and drug information pharmacist, etc. The new age pharmacists are expected to interact with patients, doctors and nurses in educating the patients in a collaborative care model. The thrust of pharmacy practice in developed countries has shifted from product centric to patient centric with the implementation of modified drug laws favouring patient safety. Whereas the pharmacy profession in India has not yet received the status and respectability it deserves. Pharmacists remained more as an invisible community occasionally seen at the retail counters handing over medicines prescribed by the physicians.

One serious issue the pharmacists and patient community facing today in India is the direct sale of medicine by the prescriber himself because of a controversial provision in drug laws. The condition for the provision was made due to shortage of registered pharmacists to dispense in the country decades ago. It provided a chance to doctors to sell medicines directly to patients, eliminating the role of a pharmacist from health care management. In the absence of effective prescription audit system and with unquestionable authority to prescribe, the doctors tend to neglect patient’s interest and indulge in overprescribing for monetary gains from pharma companies. This dangerous trend in health care practice prevails despite warnings by Medical Council of India on erring doctors. Pharmacist at a retail counter has a key role to play here to help the patients. For this there is a need to redefine the role and responsibility of a pharmacist so as to ensure timely intervention for the benefit of patients. The current laws do not empower the pharmacists for such interventions. With the new Regulation coming into force now, the relevant provisions both in the Pharmacy Act and D&C Act need to be harmonized to avoid any contradiction.

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