History of Pharmacy Profession in India in Relation to Pharmacy Education


In India the pharmacy education was started in 1842 in Goa by Portuguese as a certificate course and this is the first step towards pharmacy profession in India. Formal training of the compounds was started in 1881 in Bengal. The university level program of pharmacy is started in 1937 at Banaras Hindu University. After World War II, the revolution in science and technology changed by pharmacy profession. In independent India, government of India enacted ‘The Pharmacy Act 1948 to control the pharmacy profession as well as education.

Traditionally pharmacy was known as an art and science of making drug/medicine. The word pharmacy is derived from Greek word ‘pharmakon’ meaning drug. In ancient period, the physician themselves practised pharmacy. It is believed that Hippocrates (father of medicine), used to made his own prescription or at least supervise their prescription. Apothecary is a historical name of pharmacist. The earliest pharmacist known as apothecary shop.

Pharmacist play a role in compounding formulations like mixtures, ointments, pills, tinctures, syrups, elixirs, powders, etc. In old times, direct crude drugs were used in the diagnosis and treatment. The pharmacist has to identify them by their morphological appearance and organoleptic characteristics. In India pharmacy was a part of medicine in our traditional system of medicine like ayurvedic, siddha, Unani, homeopathy.

Pharmaceutical industry

In industry pharmacist performs many works in different ways. Some of the major areas are given below.

Formulation and development (F & D)

Commercial drug production is a difficult task for any pharmaceutical companies. The role of F&D scientist is to develop a complete understanding of the form and structure of the drug substance and drug product. Pharmacist also involved in formulation testing and prepare a successful formulation with active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and inactive excipients. Physicochemical analysis can aid excipient selection, enable the stability of drug substance and drug product to be assessed.

Manufacturing department

Proper equipment, proper procedure and suitable conditions are the necessary conditions for any pharmaceutical manufacturing units. Pharmacist develops and maintain standard operating procedure (SOP) and provide effective training to production staff. Proper sanitation and hygiene conditions are also developed by pharmacist. The safety environment and safety area is also decided by pharmacist for manufacturing unit.

Quality control and quality assurance

The main function of quality control is to test and verify the products quality according to pharmacopoeial standards. The work of quality control involves sampling, inspection and testing of raw material and packaging material, documentation, etc. by high skilled person. QC department defines the stability testing and evaluation of shelf life of products and also monitor the microbial activity of raw materials and finished products.

Quality assurance department execute the systemic monitoring and evaluation of the drugs and excipients to ensure that formulation of a standard quality is manufactured. QA department is also responsible for maintenance of a desired level of quality in product, specially by means of attention to every stage of the process of manufacturing.

Regulatory affairs

Regulatory affairs is a profession developed from the desire of government to protect public health. It promotes strategic and technical advice at the highest level, making an important contribution both commercial and scientific development. Regulatory pharmacist keeps track of everchanging legislation in all the region in which its products are to be distributed. Also provide advice on legal and scientific restraints.

Sales and marketing

Pharmaceutical marketing industry is presently most organised and updated industry. It provides comprehensive information to physicians about the availability, safety, efficacy, hazardous and techniques of using medicines. Marketing is a process which starts with identifying and understanding the needs and wants of the customer (demand) and then fulfilling them (supply). In addition, marketing can create new needs or reformat the existing needs. Here pharmacist is in direct contacts with patients and physicians to complete the public need and requirements.


Pharmacovigilance is the branch of pharmaceutical science relating to collection, detection, assessment, monitoring and prevention of adverse effects with pharmaceutical products. The main focus of pharmacovigilance is on the adverse drug reactions (ADR). Pharmacovigilance collects information from patients and healthcare provider via agreements as well as medical literature. It helps in identifying the hazardous associated with pharmaceutical products and helps to minimize the risk of any harm that may come to patients.

Pharmacy as a career

Each branch of pharmacy offers unique opportunities and challenges, making pharmacy a diverse and dynamic field in India. It’s important to choose a branch that aligns with your interests and career goals.

Pharmaceutics: This branch focuses on the design and manufacture of medicines. It involves the study of how drugs can be delivered to the body in the most effective way. Career opportunities in this field include roles in drug development, manufacturing, and quality control. Graduates can work in pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, and government agencies.

Medicinal Chemistry: This branch combines principles of chemistry and pharmacology to design, synthesize, and develop pharmaceutical drugs. Medicinal chemists work in drug discovery and development, often in a laboratory setting. They may work in pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, or academic institutions. Job roles include Lab Technician, Analytical Chemist, and Research Scientist, with an average salary ranging from INR 2-8 LPA.

Pharmacognosy: This branch deals with the study of medicinal drugs derived from plants and other natural sources. Professionals in this field can work in various sectors like hospitals, herbal industries, and research laboratories. Job roles include Pharmacologist, Analytical Chemist, and Biomedical Scientist, with an average salary of around INR 3 – 5.5 LPA.

Pharmacy Practice: This branch focuses on the application of pharmacy knowledge in healthcare settings. It involves direct interaction with patients and other healthcare professionals to ensure optimal use of medications. Career opportunities include roles in hospitals, community pharmacies, and regulatory bodies. Graduates can work as Clinical Pharmacists, Medical Science Liaisons, and Clinical Study Coordinators.

Pharmacology: This branch studies the effects of drugs on the human body. Pharmacologists can specialize in areas such as toxicology, neuroscience, or cardiovascular pharmacology. They can work in research and development, clinical trials, and academia. Job roles include Pharmacologist, Research Scientist, and Analytical Chemist, with an average salary of around INR 3 – 5.5 LPA.

As for current career opportunities, pharmacy is a versatile field in India with numerous job prospects. These includes,

  • Chemical Technician: Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products.
  • Drug/Pharmaceutical Technician: Assist pharmacists with the preparation of prescribed medications.
  • Drug Therapist: Treat with substances used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or relieve symptoms of a disease.
  • Hospital Drug Coordinator: Prepare medications under the directions of a pharmacist and manage dosage as prescribed.
  • Bio-Technology Industries: Help the pharmaceutical industry to develop new products, processes, methods, and services.
  • Drug Inspector: Monitor and execute efficiency, safety, quality, and usefulness of drugs from the production stage to the final selling stage.
  • Pharmacist: Ensure the quality of medicines supplied to patients and advise patients about medicines.
  • Research Officer: Organize and administer clinical trials of new or current drugs.


Pharmacy in India has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Initially, all drugs were imported from Europe, but later some drugs began to be manufactured in India. The profession grew significantly after independence, with the establishment of the Pharmacy Act in 1948 to regulate the education and practice of pharmacy. As for current career opportunities, pharmacy is a versatile field in India with numerous job prospects.

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