Following the development of the industry for the production of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes, the demand for pharmaceutical technologists carrying out research in this medicine has grown. However, currently the industry does not have sufficient professionals in the sphere while the University is striving to induce more students for courses as pharmaceutical technologists.
The Chairman of the Authority for Medicines, Professor Anthony Serracino Inglott said that the pharmaceutical industry requires the services of about 200 specialists in pharmaceutical technology. He said that an advanced stage of research has now been reached, such as research into the use of cannabis as a medicine as well as research into stem cells, research into 3D printing, research on medicinal distribution in the blood stream and research into new medicines.
Professor Serracino Inglott said Malta’s pharmaceutical industry enjoys a high reputation because it is regulated. He said that for the success of using cannabis for medicinal and research purposes as in industry, there is a greater need for pharmaceutical technologists.
Ingrid Bonello, who in November will graduate as such a technologist, has researched medicinal cannabis and the way it is administered to patients. She has studied whether this would be in syrup form, capsules or patches and the studies were of great interest to her. She said that as this is a new medicine it offers her the scope of further studies.
Chris Xerri has also just completed the course and in his opinion this has opened new doors of opportunity. In his researches he identified 11 new roles that a pharmaceutical technologist may have in a hospital. He said this will mean the technical role will be taken by technologists and this will give pharmacists the opportunity to offer more clinical services to patients as well as to upgrade the quality of these services.
Toward the end of the year 15 persons will be graduating as pharmaceutical technologists but this is not perceived as being enough for the number required by the industry.
In 2011, University began offering courses in Pharmaceutical Technology as developed by the needs of the industry.
The Head of the Pharmaceutical Department, Professor Lilian Azzopardi, said students are given the opportunity to visit various laboratories outside Malta. In October 90% of the students in their final course year will be in various places throughout Europe. They will also be carrying out research in various European universities.
This Friday the Pharmaceutical Department will be holding an Open Day for all those interested in following such a course in the sector.