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Supreme Court could hear Pharmacy Council fight over use of the title doctor

The Supreme Court, which is calling on state governments to ensure access to healthcare for sufferers of rare diseases.
The Supreme Court, where the Indian Medical Association and the Pharmacy Council of India could air their dispute over use of the ‘Dr’ prefix.

The ongoing war of words over whether pharmacists should be able to use the ‘Dr’ prefix may end up before the Supreme Court.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) took umbrage with a Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) decision to allow holders of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree to refer to themselves as a doctor in the medical context of the term. The IMA claimed that such “transgressions of entitlement” to be “illegal and illegitimate”, writing to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Medical Council of India in protest.

The IMA went on to decry the move as “social anarchy” which would only confuse “the common man.” In a statement, the apex doctors’ body said “the impact…on the structure of a well-organised society is clearly evident.”

The PCI has since responded by suggesting they could take the matter to the Supreme Court if Pharm.D holders are disallowed from using the title.

There should be uniformity in the use of Dr prefix,” asserted Dr Vinayak Ghayal, president of the Maharashtra Pharm.D Association. “Only those who hold a university degree higher than master’s degree should be awarded this right. PharmD is internationally recognized doctorate-level course and we deserve it.”

Concurring, Dr Mohammed Thayyub – convener of the Tamil Nadu Pharm.D Holders Association – stated that the qualification “is considered…noble and dignified” and “has international acclaim.” In a statement, Dr Thayuub said the right of Pharm.D degree holders to use the prefix is “a legal right.”

The result is that pharmacy associations could litigate the matter, with state-level pharmacy bodies contemplating petitioning the Supreme Court if the matter is not resolved. Citing the “not at all practically correct” position of the IMA, an official with the PCI said the organisation cannot stop associations from taking this course of action.

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