The pharmaceutical sector has raised concern on the need to re-evaluate the professional doctorate in pharmacy According to pharmacists, the degree has received low recognition in the country and its healthcare space. They observed that the title, known as “Doctor of Pharmacy”, does not seek to disrupt other health-related disciplines, neither is it in conflict with any of the health disciplines, but rather complementary to roles of other healthcare workers and provides opportunities that can best communicate the new values, philosophy, and vision of the profession.
The homegrown Pharm. D Programme is a hybrid of scientific evidence, clinical orientation and public health professional degree with an enhanced patient orientation in addition to the traditional focus on products (medicines).In recognition of the need to keep pace with the changes in pharmacy practice worldwide, the Federal Ministry of Health, in 1992, through the then Pharmacists Board of Nigeria (PBN), sponsored the Deans of Faculties of Pharmacy on a study tour of Pharmacy Schools in the United Kingdom and United States of America (USA).
The outcome of the tour was the recommendation that pharmacy practice in Nigeria should be more patient-oriented to complement the traditional roles of the pharmacist in line with the global trend. The recommendation was accepted by both the then Pharmacists Board of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). The Council of Nigeria (PCN), in the exercise of its statutory responsibility to determine the appropriate Pharmacy programme, wrote to the National Universities Commission (NUC) to introduce a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) programme in Nigerian universities.
After series of meetings and deliberations by stakeholders with the FMOH, as well as the drafted degree curriculum and amendment of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) for the degree, NUC approved the Pharm. D programme with effect from the 2016/2017 academic Session. According to the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mr Ahmed Yakasai, the six-year Pharm. D programme provides pharmacists with specialized clinical training that focuses on the development of professional competencies and confidence in the provision of evidence-based patient-oriented care.
He said as part of the objectives of the Pharm D programme, students would be provided with adequate knowledge and appropriate skills base from which they could proceed for further studies in specialized areas, which include Nuclear Pharmacy, Ambulatory Pharmacy, Critical Care Pharmacy, Cardiovascular Pharmacy, Oncology Pharmacy, Informatics, Pediatrics Pharmacy, Pharmacotherapy, Mental Health Pharmacy, Solid Organ Transplant Pharmacy, Medicine Information and Geriatrics Pharmacy, among others.
Meanwhile, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) had approved the degree to be the new first-professional degree, which all accredited schools and colleges of Pharmacy in the USA offer the till present. As part of the measures to strengthen the mandate, America enforced legal requirements of becoming a pharmacist to include graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) degree from an accredited college of pharmacy, serving an internship under a licensed pharmacist, passing a national examination (NAPLEX – North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and a pharmacy law exam (MPJE – Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam). However, the Federation of International Pharmacist (FIP) had since directed that Pharm. D degree should be the minimum qualification to practice pharmacy.
Since the launching of the first Pharm. D programme in the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1955, the following countries have adopted it. They include Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, USA, Canada, Brazil and Chile.
Yakasai said even though the Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum was good at its inception, particularly with the sound scientific principles in the programme, it is gradually running out of relevance to emerging pharmacy needs and practice in the 21st Century. He said adopting the Pharm. D programme fully would better meet the current and future needs of Nigerians healthcare.
He said the pharmacy profession, like every other profession, keeps pace with dynamics of life and has metamorphosed to respond to demands from the healthcare system as well as the need for alignment with national priorities and global needs.
Yakasai, who spoke on the need for implementing the programme in Nigeria, said: “The healthcare system across the globe is undergoing a significant transformation in both financing and delivery, pushing health authorities to define policies that create efficient models of care focused on improved quality and improved health outcomes as well as reduced cost.
“The growing demands by the public for an adequate supply of drugs that are effective, affordable safe and of good quality at all times triggers the need to address increasing rate of medication errors, teratogenicity, idiosyncratic reactions, adverse drug events (Pharmacovigilance) and to complement the roles of other healthcare professionals.”The PSN president stressed that if the society is to achieve optimal and rational use of medication, it must have a health profession that is devoted to that purpose, noting, “Pharmacy is the most appropriate and there-in lies the need to enhance and improve the training of future pharmacists that would appropriately fill this yawning gap.”