Dr Bhagwan Dass Miglani: A hospital pharmacist’s progress

On the occasion of this year’s 66th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, Dr Bhagwan Dass Miglani, Founder Secretary of the Indian Hospital Pharmacists’ Association recalls his evolution as a hospital pharmacist and the many changes in the profession today. Miglani recounts how the IPCs he attended and contributed to over the past decades allowed him to interact with outstanding personalities who helped him expand his horizons and become a leader in his own right

On the occasion of this year’s 66th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, Dr Bhagwan Dass Miglani, Founder Secretary of the Indian Hospital Pharmacists’ Association recalls his evolution as a hospital pharmacist and the many changes in the profession today. Miglani recounts how the IPCs he attended and contributed to over the past decades allowed him to interact with outstanding personalities who helped him expand his horizons and become a leader in his own right. By Usha Sharma

Dr Bhagwan Dass Miglani

A pioneer in hospital pharmacy, 85-year-old Dr Bhagwan Dass Miglani, a much sought after pharmaceutical consultant and educationist, has witnessed many reforms in pharma industry in India. Born in September1929 in Sahani village, Bhakkar tehsil, in erstwhile Pakistan, Miglani and his family migrated to India saw upheaval during partition. His family moved from his birthplace “due to ethnic trouble in the province of Sindh, and settled in towns along the banks of the Sindh river in Punjab. The family later moved to Rawalpindi, near Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad in the province of Punjab.”

Recalling his choice of settling down in India, Miglani confirms, “My decision to migrate to India from Pakistan on partition made me what I am today. Had I not migrated, I cannot even guess what I would have been. The partition, if it can be taken as incident, thus, has had a striking impact on my life.” Post migration to India, like many families, his family also modified the spelling of their surname from ‘Minglani’ to the current ‘Miglani.’

First steps into pharmacy

Parents are most often the best judge of their child’s ability best and this was true of Miglani. His father had toured Lahore quite often and got to know of the pharmacy degree course run by Punjab University and decided that this would be a good career for his son. Miglani admits that he used to be fascinated about the profession of retail chemists right from his childhood, and thus gladly accepted his father’s decision to take up pharmacy as his career. Thanks to the economic security provided by his father, he could devote his time to his career.

Besides his father, he also credits the influence of his mother and wife on his personality saying, “My mother, who was a pious religious lady, had a great influence on me and inculcated ethics as well as made me religious since she used to take me along to the gurdwara near their residence in Rawalpindi. My wife Usha contributed in a great way in my career since she gave me all the time, which largely belonged to her, for professional activities.”

Age no bar for role models

Though it is conventional to choose role models who are far advanced in their careers, it is a fact that good examples of leaders can come in all shapes and sizes and indeed ages. In Miglani’s case, it was a fellow student. As a student of the B.Pharm course in the Department of Pharmaceutics, Punjab University, located at Glancy Medical College and Khalsa College, Amritsar in 1948, he was so impressed with classmate Harkishan Singh, that he choose him as his role model. Singh was academically sound, religious, hard working, a disciplinarian, sincere, man of action, devoted and dedicated to his professional pursuits. Singh went on to become a prominent medicinal chemist and a science historian and worked in premier institutions in India and abroad. Presently, he is Professor Emeritus at the Punjab University. The two classmates have remained friends since 1948, have worked together on many professional issues. Their differences on certain occasions never effected their friendship, reveals Miglani.

From seeking out motivators at IPC …

There have been many thought provoking leaders who encouraged and motivated Miglani to aim high. He freely acknowledges their contribution in his life and goes on to list their names, “Prof KN Gaind, not only motivated me to continue post-graduate studies but made it possible for me to continue the same while in service under his guidance in the Department of Pharmacy, Punjab University, Chandigarh. I had been attending Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC) sessions almost regularly after completion of my studies and came in contact with prominent personalities and pillars of the profession of pharmacy, like Prof ML Schroff (known as the ‘Father of Pharmacy’), Prof GP Srivastava ( from Benaras Hindu University), Dr S Rohatagi (President, Pharmacy Council of India), Prof PC Dandiya (Professor Emeritus), Prof SN Sharma (Professor Emeritus) and others, like RB Patel (Drug Controller, Maharashtra and Gujarat), Dr Parminder Singh (founder of Ranbaxy Laboratories ), Dr Nitya Anand (Director, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow), had been motivational forces for me since they had been promoting the cause of the pharmacy profession.”

… to becoming a motivator

Having observed and followed closely so many leaders, Miglani was now ready to be one himself. And the opportunity came when he laid the foundation of the Indian Hospital Pharmacists’ Association (IHPA) in 1963 at that year’s IPC.

Relating the sequence of events, Miglani recalls, “My mission has been to promote the profession of hospital pharmacy and for this hospital pharmacists, like, SH Merchant, NS Gayatonde, VK Oesterling, and others had not only been my motivational force but we also worked together to uplift the profession of hospital pharmacy. I joined Irwin Hospital in 1951, as a hospital pharmacist and since then I wanted to organise an association of hospital pharmacists and to bring out a publication to be entitled, Indian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, in the country. Margaret Benfield, Hospital Pharmacist, Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore, wrote to Dr Chakraborty, Secretary, IPC expressing the desirability of organising hospital pharmacists in India to improve the deplorable condition of hospital pharmacies.”

“That letter, referred to me, inspired me that when foreigners feel so concerned about our plight then why we ourselves are not sensitive to such issues. Thus, I took the initiative to organise the IHPA in 1963 at the IPC Session at Pilani and instituted the publication of the Indian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy in 1964,” reveals Miglani.

Evolution of the pharma sector in India

Comparing today’s pharma industry to the situation when he entered the profession, Miglani sees a sea change, mostly for the good. He recalls, “The pharma industry was almost non-existent when our country attained freedom. Today, we have more than 10000 pharma units. We have sufficient production of pharma formulations to meet the country’s demand . We also manufacture a large number of bulk drugs. We have also been exporting drugs to many countries. Globally, we stand third in volume of production of drugs and 14th in value. Growth of industry as on average has been 14 per cent approximately. Further, India is becoming the favoured destination for pharma research and development of drug companies.”

Awards & Recognitions


2014: Shri Bhojraj Panjamool Life Time Achievement Award, Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI) for Education and Research
2009: Lifetime Achievement Award, Indian Hospital Pharmacist’s Association (IGPA) in recognition of his contribution to the profession of pharmacy and development of hospital pharmacy
2007: Professor GP Srivastava Memorial Award, APTI, in recognition of excellence in pharma education
2002: Drug Inspectors Welfare Association (DIWA) Award, in recognition of his services to pharmacy profession especially in the area of hospital pharmacy
1985: Professor ML Schroff Memorial National Award, IGPA, in recognition of hi contribution to hospital pharma services, pharmacy education and journalism
1980: Acharya, Sir PC Ray Memorial Gold Medal, Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) , in recognition of his hard and painstaking work for the profession of pharmacy in general, especially in the areas of hospitals and health clinics


  • Convener, ER-2001 for Bachelor of Pharmacy (PCI), 1999
  • Member, Delhi State Essential Drugs Formulary Committee, 1996-97.
  • Member, Sub-Committee of the Pharmacopoeia of India, Govt. of India, Ministry of Health (1982-83 and 1993-94);
  • Member, Pharmacy Council of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, 1986.
  • President, Delhi Pharmacy Council, 1983
  • Member National Formulary of India, Govt. of India, Ministry of Health (1979);
  • Fellow, Indian College of Allergy & Applied Immunology, 1968
  • Founder Secretary, Indian College of Allegry & Immunology, 1967
  • Founder Editor – Indian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 1964-2007; Chief Editor, Graduatus Pharmaceutica, 1978-82; Member, Editorial Boards of The Pharma Times and Indian Hospital Administration, Indian Journal of Pharmacy Practice & Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education & Research.

But future progress is not without challenges. As he cautions, the major challenge to the pharma industry (in India) is to maintain quality of drugs as per international standards. The challenge is to maintain excellent standard in pharma education. The regulatory authority, though it has evolved to a good extent, has to get rid of the menace of spurious and fake drugs available in the market. This challenge has to be met to ensure availability of standard drugs for effective medication to the ailing community. He feels, “The standard of pharma education has deteriorated and it needs lot of efforts to ensure that proper facilities in terms of equipment, space, teaching staff are maintained. The accreditation system has to be improved to upgrade the standards of pharma education in the country.”

Major changes still needed

Listing the three major changes he would like to see, Miglani points out that firstly, the world over, ‘pharmacy’ stands for pharmacy practice which implies practice in community and institutional (hospital) settings. He would like to see that pharmacy is recognised as practice of pharmacy rather than as a part of the pharma industry.

Secondly, he advocates that there is a dire need to establish full-fledged departments of pharmacy in all major hospitals headed by a pharmacist possessing Pharm.D/ Master in Pharmacy Practice as recommended in the Hathi Committee Report (1975) and National Human Rights Commission Report (1999). He feels that the importance of setting up such a department is justified since a major portion of a hospital’s budget is spent on medicine, which he believes to be as much as 60-70 per cent. He also points out that as much as 80 per cent of patients attending hospitals require the services of a hospital pharmacy. At present, there is no such department and wherever they do exist, they are headless and is being managed multiple medical officer as additional duty.

And thirdly, he points out that at present there is dual control of pharmacy education under PCI and All India Council of Technical Education. Miglani would like pharma education to be put under the charge of PCI with more power to ensure proper standard of education in teaching institutions.

While signing off Miglani sums up with some sage advice for young entrants to the pharma fraternity saying, “Present day pharmacy professionals have to be committed, dedicated and should work with a missionary spirit. The pharmacist’s sole objective should be to provide quality services for the welfare of the patient community by taking the challenging job of providing drugs of quality at reasonable cost and providing counselling to patients. We should get rid of the menace of greed and corruption.”

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First published on: 22-01-2015 at 14:02 IST