The pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh has been steadily growing in recent years, with an increasing demand for high-quality, affordable medication both domestically and internationally. To maintain expansion and implement several positions for pharmacists, this industry will typically need a talented workforce. Many students of pharmacy or related educational backgrounds in Bangladesh may not be aware of the various career scopes within the pharmaceutical industry. While pharmacists, globally, are typically known for their expertise in medication administration and patient care, there are many emerging fields and sectors connected to our industry that remain somewhat less explored.
To shed light on these matters, the writer spoke with professionals in the field to explore the potential for pharmacy graduates in Bangladesh. From quality control to hospital pharmacy, research, and marketing, there are many exciting opportunities for those with a passion for the pharmaceutical industry. This sector also has opportunities for graduates of biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry and business.
After the diagnosis of an ailment by a physician, the next important role comes down to a pharmacist; at least in developed nations. In Bangladesh, only a handful of hospitals have hospital pharmacists. Although in developed countries, pharmacists play a critical role in patient care through their drug-related services, ensuring proper guidance, educating the patients about effects, doses, contraindications, interactions andmonitoring the patients, and being a bridge between physicians and patients. However, Bangladesh has come a long way in transforming this industry through supportive policies as well as driven entrepreneurs. To establish hospital pharmacists, Bangladesh needs passionate professionals in this segment as well as more policy support for the evolving needs of the people and the sector.
Rubaiya Sultana, working as a hospital pharmacist in Evercare Hospital, Dhaka says, "A student who wants to work as a hospital pharmacist needs to be proficient in both organic chemistry and pharmacology." Those in this sector who are actually proficient in the fields of pharmacology and organic chemistry can thrive and succeed. She adds that there are two different responsibilities that hospital pharmacists must play: the first is ward pharmacist or clinical pharmacist, and the second is dispensing hospital pharmacist.
Clinical pharmacists are in charge of routine prescription evaluation, dose adjustment, patient-related antibiotic monitoring, advanced drug documentation, medication error, and high-alert medication monitoring. The work of clinical pharmacists and ward pharmacists is more patient-focused. The majority of the work that dispensing pharmacists conduct is in pharmacies. Management of the drug supply is also their responsibility. In Bangladesh, the position of a hospital pharmacist is still in its infancy; they do not compete with doctors, she continued. Their responsibility is to provide pertinent information to aid the medical experts. However, hospital pharmacists' jobs are evolving and gaining greater doctor acceptability in recent years.
Globally, Bangladesh's pharma sector has a good reputation that is known for its high-quality standards in drug production. This wouldn't be possible without proper Quality Control (QC). Testing pharmaceuticals at different stages of production is the major goal of quality control to ensure that they can move on to the next stage and are produced following the rules and standards needed for human use. Ahmed Limon, senior officer in QC at Healthcare Chemical Limited shared, "To enter into QC, you must have a strong command of basic chemistry."
Chromatography, titration, and pH procedures are significant in basic chemistry. Assaying products to determine their purity is part of the QC job description, and high-performance liquid chromatography(HPLC) is frequently used for this purpose. Professionals believe that this field also requires a skill of 'attention to details'. Quality control is a key segment of the overall production department of any pharmaceutical company. In any plant, there are other operations-related jobs that graduates can opt for as well.
Another interesting field of jobs is Research and Development (R&D). In addition to academic prowess, the R&D department requires dynamism and analytical skills. From concept development to customer satisfaction assurance and monitoring falls under this department. The study of pharmacy also involves several different academic research fields. Dr Akib Bin Rahman, assistant professor of the pharmacy department at Independent University, Bangladesh, says, "A student should select a research topic based on his or her areas of interest." One can also research the following topics: dosage formulation, drug discovery, and public health. There are also opportunities for research at hospitals and community pharmacies; hopefully these will further be developed for graduates of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's research sector is not as developed as other countries due to various reasons. Nonetheless, there are several scopes in foreign countries for researchers in the fields of public health, drug discovery, and other fields that can be explored by pharmacy students in Bangladesh.
It is a matter of pride that our local pharmaceutical companies can cater to almost all of the growing demand for medicines in Bangladesh. Drug availability and awareness in Bangladesh including the distant corners of the country is driven by the marketing and sales teams of pharma companies.
Pharmaceutical marketing can be an interesting career choice for pharmacy students. However, the emerging field is the international market for Bangladesh due to the growth prospects of drug exports. As a result, the International Marketing Department (IMD) can give pharmacy students unique roles that are both challenging and self-transforming. Jamie Tasnimur, executive in the International Marketing Department at General pharmaceutical Limited says, "IMD is not for you if you seek a hassle-free profession. It will put you to the test, try to break you, and stress you, but it will also alter you, creating a new version of you."
One must be a critical thinker, self-driven, outgoing, presentable, and a strong communicator to succeed in the field of pharmaceutical marketing. Considering that a person will represent the business to the global market, strong written and verbal skills in English would be indispensable. One can also consider completing IELTS preparation if he or she wants a framework to improve English. International business varies from one company to another, and so do the roles and responsibilities of people working there. The major and common responsibility is to develop foreign markets and complete the required paperwork. It goes without saying that, software skills such as Docs, Excel, and PowerPoint are important to succeed in most marketing-related roles.
Oftentimes, students find it hard to obtain suitable roles or develop their careers after graduating from a pharmacy background. As the roles of pharmacists and the inclusion of pharmacy students in many health-care-related fields are still evolving and the export and local market is believed to grow steadily in Bangladesh, strong passion, patience, and determination will unlock doors.
The writer is a final year student of Bachelor of Pharmacy at Independent University, Bangladesh.