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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 132  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 748-750

History of pharmacy in India & related aspects (Vol. 6): Medico-pharmaceutical professionals

Former Director, Central Drug Research Institute, 3 Rama Krishna Marg, Lucknow 226 007, India

Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2011

Correspondence Address:
B N Dhawan
Former Director, Central Drug Research Institute, 3 Rama Krishna Marg, Lucknow 226 007
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Dhawan B N. History of pharmacy in India & related aspects (Vol. 6): Medico-pharmaceutical professionals. Indian J Med Res 2010;132:748-50

How to cite this URL:
Dhawan B N. History of pharmacy in India & related aspects (Vol. 6): Medico-pharmaceutical professionals. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 May 9];132:748-50. Available from:

History of pharmacy in India & related aspects (Vol. 6): Medico-pharmaceutical professionals,

1 st ed., Harkishan Singh (Vallabh Prakashan, Delhi, India) 2009. 174 pages. Price: Rs.600.00

ISBN 81-85731-45-4


History of pharmacy in India & related aspects (Vol. 7): Sir Ram Nath Chopra: Work vision & legacy, 1 st ed., Harkishan Singh (Vallabh Prakashan, Delhi, India). 2010. 266 pages. Price: Rs.600.00

ISBN 978-81-85731-46-9

Professor Harkishan Singh started publishing this series of books on History of Pharmacy in India in 1994. The first three volumes dealt with the Pharmacopoeias, growth of discipline of pharmacy and pharmacy education in the country. Volumes 4 and 5 were devoted to biographies of those early pioneers who had background of Pharmacy.

Volume 6 contains biographies of 3 distinguished pharmacologists of the country. They were medical professionals but had substantially helped in the development of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Their extensive contributions to pharmacology had masked this aspect of their work. Prof. Singh has done a creditable job of putting their contributions to pharmacy in proper perspective. The three luminaries are Sir Ram Nath Chopra, Prof. Khem Singh Grewal and Dr Bishnupada Mukerji.

The chapter on Chopra is an updated version of his biography by Prof. Singh earlier published in Indian Journal of History of Science (2008; 43 : 231-264) Chopra is known as the father of Indian Pharmacology. He brought modern pharmacology in place of materia medica and also evolved guidelines for evaluation of products used in traditional medicines so that these could be accepted by practitioners of modern medicine. The approach and guidelines have been universally accepted and have remained almost unaltered for nearly eight decades after being developed. Chopra was also a major contributor in the development of pharmaceutical sciences in the country. He was the President of the Drug Enquiry Committee whose recommendations led to the development of necessary legislation and infrastructure for education and research in pharmaceutical sciences.

The chapter on Grewal also is an updated version of his biography by Prof. Singh published in Indian Journal of History of Science (2008; 43 : 631-644). Dr Grewal's main research interest was in medicinal plants. His contributions to pharmacology, to some extent, have been dwarfed by his equally illustrious son Dr R.S. Grewal who became the Director of the CIBA Research Center at Mumbai. Prof. Grewal had the reputation of bringing to bear a new insight to any problem he looked into. He had built an excellent facility for pharmaceutical education and research at KEM Medical College, Lahore. He rebuilt these at Panjab University, Chandigarh, following partition. The facility now has grown in an Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was also involved in setting up of Indian Pharmaceutical Association in 1940 and its official journal, Indian Journal of Pharmacy, in 1939. He submitted a valuable memorandum to the Bhore Committee on Pharmacy Education in India. He was the first Drugs Controller of Punjab, and also a member of the Technical Advisory Board to the Drugs Controller, Government of India.

Dr B. Mukerji started his research career with Chopra at the School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta (now Kolkata), but soon got involved in developing the Biochemical Standardization Laboratory. He was associated with the laboratory for nearly 15 years and saw it metamorphose to the statutory Central Drugs Laboratory of the Government of India. He was the Secretary of the Drugs Enquiry Committee chaired by Chopra. A chapter (Chapter V) in the Report has been devoted to recommendations for the development of Pharmacy. Mukerji was involved in preparation of the project document for Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, and guided it as Director during its formative years. He could find time to deliver lectures on modernization of pharmacy education and research in the country and development of the pharmaceutical industry. He compiled the Indian Pharmacopoeial List in 1946 and Indian Pharmaceutical Codex in 1953. He was a member and subsequently the chairman of the Indian Pharmacopoeia (1948-1966) and also a member of the Expert Committee on International Pharmacopoeia of the World Health Organization. He was the secretary of Bengal Pharmaceutical Association and involved in the publication of Indian Journal of Pharmacy in 1939 by the UP Pharmaceutical Association (subsequently christened as the Indian Pharmaceutical Association in 1940). He was a member of the Pharmaceutical Education Sub-committee of Bhore Health Survey and Development Committee. The sub-committee suggested syllabi for degree and diploma courses in Pharmacy and recommended constitution of Central Pharmaceutical Council. Dr Mukerji was a member of the first Pharmacy Council of India constituted in 1949.

Volume 6 has three appendices. The first two contain text of presidential address of B. Mukerji to Physiology Section of 32 nd Science Congress in 1945 (The Scope and Future in India) and to the 6 th Bengal Pharmaceutical Conference in 1950 (The March of Pharmacy in India). The later address highlighted the fact that pharmacists were no longer dignified compounders. The other topics covered by him included pharmaceutical education for retail pharmacists as well as collegiate education, doctor-pharmacist relationship and need for updating pharmacy legislation. The last appendix is reprint of an autobiographical review by Chopra contributed to Annual Review of Pharmacology in 1965 (Problems and Prospects of a Pharmacological Career in India).

Volume 7 is totally devoted to Sir Ram Nath Chopra and could be taken as a continuation of the appendices of the previous volume. It contains a very brief biography of Chopra and reprints of 13 of his publications. The reprints cover a wide range of topics and give a glimpse of his scientific activities between 1927-1965. Ten of these are Presidential or Inaugural addresses to meetings of Academies or Societies ranging from National Institute of Sciences (1941, now renamed Indian National Science Academy) and Indian Science Congress Association (1927, 1938, 1948) to Bengal Pharmaceutical Association (1937) and All Bengal Compounders' Association (1934). Four of these deal with the problems of Pharmacy profession. It is interesting that in his presidential address to Indian Science Congress in 1948 he pleaded for the establishment of a Central Institute of Drug Research (helping establishment of CDRI at Lucknow in 1951) and raising the retirement age of medical personnel to 65 years. The last paper in this volume is his autobiographical contribution to Annual Reviews of Pharmacology in 1965. This also has been included in Volume 6 of the series.

Volume 7 also contains 3 appendices. Appendix 1 is a contribution from his long time associate, B. Mukerji highlighting Chopra's contribution to development of Pharmacology in India (Indian Medical Gazette, 1942). The second paper in Pharma Times of 1973 details Chopra's role in developing and upgrading the discipline of Pharmacy. The last appendix is a list of scientific publications of Chopra between 1922-1969. It provided complete references to his nearly 400 papers and 10 books. The papers cover a bright range of topics. The largest share has been taken by natural products followed by basic research and drug addiction. The list includes 63 reviews and an equal number of papers on diverse topics in medical and pharmaceutical sciences. These would be good source material for future research workers. Many of these papers are of great historical value but have been published in journals not easily available. Chopra had a long association with CSIR and INSA. One of these organizations should procure copies of all these publication with the help of Prof. Harkishan Singh and publish these in a book form.

Both the volumes have been well formatted and are almost totally free from printing mistakes. These are extensively indexed. A hall mark of Prof. Singh's publications has been verification of all facts from original sources. This has been maintained in the present volumes also and has helped to solve existing controversies and doubts in several instances. Prof. Singh is the leading historian of Indian Pharmacy and we should look forward to more such authentic volumes in the series containing meticulously and painstakingly collected data on the subject in the years to come.

Prof. Singh must have got by now perhaps the richest and largest collection of original documents (or their copies) on various facets of development and growth of the Pharmaceutical Sciences in the country. The conservation and availability of this valuable resource to future researchers need to be ensured. Prof. Singh has long and continuing association with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Mohali. One of these institutions can help conversion of this treasure in an electronic form besides conserving the hard copies.


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