Pharmacists use DR prefix: IMA writes to Union Health Ministry, MCI
New Delhi: Stating that such "transgressions of entitlement are illegal and illegitimate", the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has come in opposition against the decision of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) decision to allow those receiving Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degree to use the prefix 'Dr' before their name.
The IMA has also written to the Union Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India (MCI) over the issue stating it is against all such shifts from those who are trained in other streams of the health sector to venture into medical practice.
Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that controversy had erupted within the medical fraternity following the decision of PCI to grant “Dr” prefix to all Pharma D degree holders. While the Pharma D students welcomed the move, the doctors have claimed that Pharmacists using the “doctor” tag will only create confusion in the minds of patients
Pharm D is a 6- year doctorate level course, including five years of academic study and a year of internship or residency. It is offered by a variety of public and private universities in India
Through a recent decision, the Pharmacy Council of India made it clear to allow Pharm D ( Doctor of Pharmacy) to use the prefix of “Dr” from now on. The confirmation of the said decision of the PCI came via letter received by the Director of the Board of Examination and evaluation of Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University which stated, “PCI has taken a decision of prefixing ‘Dr’ before the name of the candidate who are awarded Pharm D degree. All the universities and examining authorities approved by the PCI are requested to use this prefix while awarding degree certificates.”
The Council wrote to the government universities all over the country to add the prefix to the names in the certificates of those students who completed their degrees in Pharm D. Majority of the private universities added the prefix ‘Dr’ before the degree as per the direction of the PCI, but few government colleges showed unwillingness to add the prefix.
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Now, opposing the PCI's decision, the IMA stated that such illegitimate conferment cannot become entitlements, just incase if an advocate or an engineer should be called the doctor by executive order.
"Such social anarchy only creates confusion in the minds of a common man and the impact it has on the structure of a well-organised society is clearly evident," it said in a statement.
Aspiration in any course needs to be legitimate and appropriate to be recognised. The roles and responsibilities of nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and others in the field of healthcare are irreplaceable and are as per their entitlement, the statement stated.
"Bridge courses and illegitimate conferment of the title of 'Dr' are two faces of the same issue which defies the sole purpose of National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). This year, the cut-off marks in the NEET for government seats were 497 out of 700, wherein most of the students, settled for non-medical courses.
"A pharmacist by any other name will remain a pharmacist. Indirect entitlement to the practice of modern medicine on human beings by colored exercise of power by bodies created for a limited purpose is unacceptable. Transgressions of entitlement are illegal and illegitimate," Dr Santanu Sen, National President of the IMA.
The IMA referred to rules, regulations governing the practice of modern medicine and several verdicts which clearly held that only a person holding registration with the Medical Council of India or the state Medical Councils is entitled to practice Modern System of Medicine.
As per several judgments and rulings, pharmacists cannot use prefix "Dr" to their name, they can work only under medical supervision and in any case cannot be the first contact person for an illness, Sen said.
"The IMA has the duty and privilege to defend the rights of medical graduates. The IMA demands that the government of India use its authority and settle the issue as per the law of the land. The IMA also urges the Pharmacy Council to take back the unlawful order," said R V Asokan, Secretary-General, IMA.