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FJDC students visit to Platinum Pharmaceutical

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By Dr Zubia Waqar Today role of the pharmaceutical industry is more three-times in driving innovation of new drugs, tests and producing these drugs safely for human use. It also acts as an economic growth factor in many locations worldwide by employing hundreds or thousands of people. Fatima Jinnah Dental College and Hospital believes that it’s worth educating students about the pharmaceutical industry and current research projects taking place in the pharmaceutical world. Pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan is one of the fastest growing industries now-a-days. It has its worth around US$ 2 billion with an annual growth rate of 12.9% per annum. The 600 firms (over 400 domestic manufacturers and approximately 200 major importers) together produce 40,000-odd formulations in the country. The pharmaceutical market in Pakistan comprises large multinational companies which are producing and marketing research based products and also other big and small National companies which are pre-dominantly producing and market generic products. Despite a close link between medical students and pharma-ceutical industry, many students are unaware of professional opportu-nities in the pharmaceutical indu-stry. Others may be hesitant to pursue graduate school and rese-arch because they are unsure of the returns and expectations. These students could be benefited tremendously from the perspe-ctives, advice, and practical exp-eriences of pharmaceutical scie-ntists, while the scientists benefit from their service to the college and learning about the school’s current academic researches. Considering the importance of this fastest industry, an academic trip for the students of 2nd Professional B.D.S. at Fatima Jinnah Dental College, to one of the renowned pharm-aceutical companies was arranged by Dr. Nazia Sultan Ali under supervision of Dr. Hussain Askary (Head of Department Community Dentistry at Fatima Jinnah Dental College and Hospital). Platinum Pharmaceutical has been recognized as one of the Pakistan’s leading quality pharmacy introducing quality products in the health care sector since 1955. Being recognized as a retail pharmacy in 1976 till now it has achieved ISO certification and accreditation. Dr Hussain Askary instructed arranging this rewarding and specifically designed visit with a view to providing a solid educational resource based learning to the students with the following objectives: “Exposing students to the advanced research in the pharmaceutical sciences and encourage them to observe one of renowned local pharmaceutical competing at international level. “Exposing students to career opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. “Provide students an opportunity to meet industry scientists with working expertise. “Increasing communications and fostering information exchange between academia, industry scientists, and students. “Conveying to the students and faculty the complexities, challe-nges, and costs associated with drug discovery, development, production, quality control, and marketing. With the co-operation of Platinum Pharmaceutical a two-day trip was arranged on the 25th of April and on 2nd of May 2013 respectively. Half of the 2nd professional BDS students visited Platinum on 25th April and other half on 2nd of May. On each respective day the students were divided into three groups and each group was assigned with a teacher and a representative from Platinum Pharmaceutical. The students were then introduced to three main departments, such as general production, quality control and technical management. Mr. Farooq Farooqi at technical management told students that the recent increase at international level have made it more and more important for engineers and plant operating personnel to design a plant that can maintain the environment of each and every working unit in a pharmaceutical company. A well maintained and fully equipped technical floor at Platinum Pharmaceutical has not only helped ensuring quality and productivity but has also minimized design cost and time. Students were briefed on the working of dehumidifiers, central air conditioning and heating systems. In the second round the students were bed to the Department of Quality Control, where one of senior lab personnel explained the role of quality control and importance of the equipment used in quality control units. According to them, if accuracy of equipment and the validation of the product quality are integrated into the plant’s early planning stage as well as in its later operation, it shortens a product’s time-to-market and allow the plant owner to more effectively take advantage of the patent protection terms. Students were told that quality control is an essential operation of the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs must be marketed as safe and therapeutically active formulations whose performance is consistent and predictable. Students observed that the quality control department of the Platinum Pharmaceutical is fully equipped with the most modern analytical instruments complying with Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). Finally, the students visited the Production Unit where they were informed about the main role of production to be turning of inputs (raw materials) into outputs (finished goods). Outputs refer to a finished product or service and inputs are the materials that are needed to manufacture certain goods. Students were also made to know that when a business completes this process it should be able to achieve customer satisfaction through producing products that are ready to be used and are fit for purpose. The production department carries out inspections and implements suitable quality initiatives. This is one of the major duties of this department because, if mistakes are made on products, customer satisfaction will be decreased or if products are ruined during the production process it would mean that the company will have to throw “bad” products away (creating waste). Both aspects will lead the company to a loss of profit. Students were made to cover themselves with protective clothing and were thus practically introduced to the policies of the production unit. This procedure made them realize that safety was of the utmost importance in the production of quality medicines. In this session students also observed the procedures followed in the production of different types of tablets, capsules, syrups/suspensions and tooth pastes as well. Apart from this activity, FJDC arranged lectures and tutorials on preventive aspects of various dental products in order to enhance basic understanding of interlinked relationship of a dental practitioner with pharmaceutical industry. Altogether the visit had its own benefits for the participants in academia and industry as it is encouraging for students to gain first-hand knowledge from the experienced scientists working in the pharmaceutical industry and to pursue research and career opportunities in the pharmaceutical sciences.

July 18, 2013
Dental is part of the Medical News Group of publications which in 1968 became the pioneer of medical journalism in Pakistan. Medical News is the only periodical in Pakistan which has 3 simultaneous editions from Karachi, Islamabad and online.

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