NIPTE’s Basu Operates in “Crisis” Mode

We received an office visit today from Dr. Prabir Basu, executive director of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education, or NIPTE. (He's also head of Purdue University's Pharmaceutical Technology Education Center.) NIPTE, in case you haven't heard, is a not-for-profit consortium of 11 universities whose mission is to further scientific education and training in the pharmaceutical industry. More accurately, NIPTE hopes to bring about a paradigm shift in the way that pharmaceutical products are developed and manufactured and how pharmaceutical workers are educated and trained, in line with FDA's Critical Path initiative. Pharmaceutical education and pharmaceutical manufacturing are in crisis, says Basu. "We need more science," he says. By that, he means we need better integration of the various scientific disciplines that, collectively, are needed to move the industry forward. Basu cites the experience of a friend from industry who had to hire a chemist, analyst and engineer to do the job of one person, since none of the three could perform the multiple functions required of the position. To that end, NIPTE is completing work on two manifestos, a Technology Roadmap and Education Roadmap, that will lay out a course for overhauling pharmaceutical science education. Look for excerpts of the two on in the coming months. How is it that 11 different institutions, with input from FDA and industry, have gotten together on the same page to produce these roadmaps? "Fear of extinction," says Basu. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are losing their competitive edge, and pharmaceutical science programs are losing their relevance, top professors are retiring or leaving their posts, and few universities have sufficient funding to lure qualified new faculty to their pharmaceutical science and engineering or physical pharmacy programs. We interviewed Dr Basu earlier in the year at the 2008 IFPAC meeting, and we'll have more such discussions and more information on NIPTE as we launch our web site this October. PWT