Every government has the discretionary power to change the nomenclature of the post of pharmacist to ‘pharmacy officer’, but the decision should be within the ambit of the Act. Even if the name of the post is changed, the duties and responsibilities assigned to them must be the same, according to pharma-legal experts.
Analyzing the issue comprehensively, Advocate Sahasranamam, senior advocate dealing in pharmacy matters in the High Court of Kerala, said even if the name is changed to a different one, the status should remain the same. Government can call the dispensing person of the pharmacy either as pharmacist or pharmacy officer. But if any change in basic qualification or anything against the provisions in the act is made there then it will become a violation. After all, Pharmacy Act 1948 does not mandate any specific name to the pharmacist.
“There is nothing wrong in changing the nomenclature of ‘pharmacist’ to ‘pharmacy officer’ so long as the qualification and duty assigned to him under the pharmacy act 1948 is not changed. The Act does not mandate any specific name to the pharmacist”, he opined. He pointed out that nowadays so many nomenclature changes are happening in government and private sectors. Even the name ‘receptionist’ is changed to ‘front office executive’ in private firms. So it can happen everywhere.
To another query, Sahasranamam said there is no need for the government to consult with PCI or with state pharmacy councils (SPC) to decide on change of nomenclature. However, for any kind of amendment PCI’s advice may be sought.
According to Advocate M Rajendran, a pharma-legal consultant and practicing lawyer in Chennai High Court, said for administrative purpose any government can change the name of any post. He said the decision of the state governments in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab making change in the designation of pharmacist to pharmacy officer is not wrong. “Even if they are pharmacy officers, they are meant to do the job of pharmacists, but they can be called in any name,” he said.
Rajendran, who was previously the director of the drugs control department in Tamil Nadu, said, “Every state has a different mode of administration, but everywhere the act is the same. The post of drug inspector is changed to drugs control officer in Haryana and to FDA officer in Maharashtra. It is the decision of the government. Similarly, the government has the right to change the name pharmacist to “pharmacy officer”.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA), Thirupati branch and Grade 1 Pharmacist at the Thirumala Thirupati Devasthanam, Gopinath K Vinayakam said the pharmacist associations should work for strengthening the profession in order to provide good services to the community. Rather than making demands for change of designations, promotional cadre and salary hike, all pharmacist groups should send proposals to the respective governments to modify the facilities of pharmacies in the hospital set up. He said no government pharmacy in the country is fully complied with Schedule N norms. He said it is a pity that these pharmacist associations are not bothered about their workplace.