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Course Description and Career Prospects

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Pharmaceutics

Course Concept :

Pharmaceutics is the subject that deals with the technology of preparation of medicines. This technology utilises scientific principles, specially a number of physio chemical principles and consists of a high degree of 'art'. A drug, solid or liquid cannot be given as it is, i.e, in its pure state because of many reasons such as

  1. The taste is usually not palatable
  2. Pure powders do not "flow" well, so cannot be prepared into formulations
  3. Formulation into tablets or capsules or some other formulation ensures drug content uniformity, easy packing, easy transport, storage and administration
  4. Pure drug may have to be protected from environment or stabilised.

So a medicine is a formulation of a drug and the "making" or manufacture of such a formulation is dealt with in the subject called pharmaceutics.

The technology called pharmaceutics has its roots in the mortar and pestle of the apothecary of the 1900-1950 period. In that period the doctors ordered to pharmacists to prepare medicines and gave directions for it. The pharmacists were adept in the technology of making medicines which was also known as compounding.

Gradually several changes took place in the field of medicines; the volume of medicines to be made increased enormously, the usage methods and routes of administration increased, the importance of aseptic procedures was understood with the progress in microbiology, the storage time increased from a few days to a few years and the role of the doctor also changed from that of a family physician to a professional practitioner. So as they say "old order change, yielding place to new" and the art of compounding receded into history yielding place to the science of formulation development and the technology of drug manufacture.

Pharmaceutics mainly deals with the manufacture of medicines. The designing of an appropriate dosage form for a drug, carrying out performulation studies, scale up studies, starting production batches and carrying out production as per validated, quality assured, standard operating procedures-all comes into the purview of pharmaceutics. This is the main angle, the main river. There are many streams that join this big river and are only extensions of the river. The physical chemistry involved in the manufacture of medicines, the old type and the new type of dosage forms, the traditional and the modern rules of dispensing, incompatibilities which are also called as pharmaceutical drug interactions, the unit operations involved in the manufacture of drugs, the body-dosage form interaction studied as biopharmaceutics-are all different angles of pharmaceutics.

Pharmaceutics is the heart of any pharmacy course. In this respect, there is a very big difference (that is easily perceived) between the western countries and countries like India. In India B.pharm and M.Pharm are centered on pharmaceutics and they train students as candidates for the pharmaceutical industry. In the west, the colleges are focussed on pharmacy practise and train students to enter into the pharmacy profession. Since pharmaceutics is the technology of making medicines and since this really is the most important aspect of the "end use" of pharmacy. Pharmaceutics, also called as pharmaceutical technology is a major discipline and comprises of many branches. The subjects taught under this specialisation in B.Pharm / M.Pharm are Physical pharmacy, Manufacturing Pharmacy, Dispensing Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Engineering and Biopharmaceutics and Pharmacokinetics.

Career Propspects :

Masters, and doctoral degrees in pharmaceutical science are sought after by employers and fill vital positions across a broad spectrum of the health care industry. Pharmaceutically-trained professionals are involved in research, synthesizing and testing new compounds; in marketing and sales of pharmaceuticals and biomedical devices; and in administering insurance programs, managed care organizations, and pharmaceutical benefit management companies.

"The number of wage and salary jobs in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing is expected to increase by about 26 percent over the 2004-14 period, compared with 14 percent for all industries combined. Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing ranks among the fastest growing manufacturing industries. Demand for this industry's products is expected to remain strong." (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics).

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