Director, NIPER Mohali: “Community pharmacy is crucial”

ASK Dr. Bhutani Director NIPER, Mohali what is lacking in pharmacy innovation? He responds, “What is missing is critical mass of highly trained manpower that can carry out research in innovation and drug discovery. When innovations are made for patient care then you become skeptical. So it should be well reviewed and validated before it goes to patient care.


Q. NIPER was envisioned in 1950s. You are the best pharmaceutical institute in Asia, so what hinders you to grow tall globally?      
A. There is a huge variation between western and Indian perception of pharmacy education. India’s main attention is on pharmaceutical sciences, and in order to move up the ladder we must seriously adapt western practice of pharmacy. In the west, pharmacy is considered as a practice or as a community service which has a direct linkage with community. The western pharmacy connects to hospital, society and the entire healthcare system, whereas India’s pharmaceutical sciences is between the biomedical sciences and life sciences. Unlike West, India is not just gulping modern predicaments. India must augment community pharmacy. 

Q. In the Indian context, what’s your strength in pharmaceutical development?     
A. NIPER has given fillip to the extensive expansion of pharmaceutical sciences in India. With India evolving in life sciences, biomedical sciences, it has contributed to product development and industrial orientation of pharmacy. Perhaps, we had done much better than any other country in the last two decades. With our interdisciplinary approach, we have combined life science, chemical sciences, biological sciences, traditionally pharmaceutical sciences. We train our students how to tackle drug interactions in corporate hospitals, how to be medically informative. There are more than 1200 pharmacy institutes who try to compete with us. Our major strength is bringing out cutting edge research in drug discovery. NIPER is contributing to the generic market for the generic formulations. So while formulating students get hands on experience. With the help of students 100 formulations are being tested.

We work on neglected diseases like TB, leishmania diseases where western world has no interest. Students study and know the inside cellular molecular mechanism of drug action. We work on areas like diabetes, neurological disorders. Our innovative lab practices are much better than global pharmaceutical centers.

Q. There is a growing emphasis laid on nano medicines. Is NIPER into nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems?  
A. Gradually, the concept of drug delivery system is changing. Everybody wants to be in science which is making progress. Nano particles are nothing but material sciences which is being applied in medicines. Its penetration power is advantageous over conventionally administrated drugs. Since the properties of nano particles are different from conventional molecules, its toxicity nature should be studied in detail. We have a research group that work on nano-toxicology where the toxicity of the nano particles studied on animal models. We have done fantastic study on zink oxide nano particles. Unless they are tested for their toxicity we cannot take them to market so easily.  

 
Q. What is absent in advocating pharmacy innovation in India?
A.
India doesn’t lag behind in pharmacy innovation. What is missing is critical mass of highly trained manpower that can carry out research in innovation and drug discovery. When innovations are made for patient care then you become skeptical. So it should be well reviewed and validated before it goes to patient care.  At NIPER as a mandate we are producing highly skilled workforce. We feel proud of our students and alumni are continuously innovating products. The really challenge for the country is that NIPER alone as single body can’t shoulder the responsibility. Unlike other institutes, we focus both in teaching, research and regularly take of industrial projects. It is not practically possible to increase the intake of the students because of the skewed student-teacher ratio. We have 40 faculties for 240 students.

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