Health Ministry Unveils Draft National Pharmacy Commission Bill

The Union Health Ministry has released the draft of National Pharmacy Commission Bill, 2023 with the objective of improving the quality and affordability of pharmacy in the country and other related aspects such as pharmaceutical education, pharmacy professionals, pharmacy research, etc. The Bill will repeal the Pharmacy Act, 1948 and the Pharmacy Council of India as on such date the Central Government may appoint.

The Bill proposes to constitute National Pharmacy Commission which will have the power to frame policies and regulate standards for the governance of pharmacy education, pharmacy institutions and pharmacy professionals. The general superintendence, direction and control of the administration will be vested in the Secretary appointed under the Act under the overall guidance of the Chairperson.

The Bill also provides for the constitution of 3 additional Boards by the Central Government i.e., the Pharmacy Education Board (PEB); the Pharmacy Assessment and Rating Board (PARB); and the Pharmacy Ethics and Registration Board (PERB). The decision of the Boards will be amenable to appellate jurisdiction of the Commission.

In order to maintain transparency and accountability an online and live National Pharmacy Register will be maintained by the PERB containing the details of the pharmacy professional. It will be a public document within the meaning of section 74 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

The bill mandates creation of a statutory body i.e., State Pharmacy Chapter to be constituted by each state within one year from the commencement of the Act to ensure the compliance of all the directives issued by the Commission. Further, the Advisory Council will act as platform through which the concerns of the states will be put-forth before the Commission.

Section 49 of the Bill bars the cognizance of any offence committed under this Bill by any court unless an officer authorised by the Commission or PERB or a State Chapter makes a written complaint.

The Bill is seen as a step towards enforcing ethical standards in all aspects of pharmacy services in the country with a robust grievance redressal mechanism to resolve disputes at the earliest.