It all began at a birthday celebration, where Lal Thakrar conceived the idea of forming the Indian Pharmacists Association (IPA). A tight-knit group of 20 pharmacists, including Lal Thakrar, Bharat Zala, H.R. Shah, Umesh Patel, Bhargav Patel, Kishore Sanghvi, and Rishi Raman, recognized the value of this initiative and laid the foundation for IPA. The initial focus revolved around programs such as continuing education (CE) and social events, including picnics and ski trips. Notably, IPA prioritized the concept of family right from its inception, as reflected in the early social nature of events. This commitment to family values continues to be evident in the organization’s current annual event.

From its roots, IPA has evolved into a dynamic organization with second-generation leadership at its helm. In some instances, IPA has even become a platform for matchmaking, highlighting the familial bonds and community connections that remain integral to the association’s identity. Today, as IPA thrives under the leadership of a new generation, it stands as a testament to the enduring strength of its initial vision and the significance of fostering connections within the pharmacy community.

The Indian Pharmacists Association (IPA) of California’s mission is uniting pharmacists and pharmacy professionals across the state, providing a secure platform for community members to share experiences and seek support. Given that a significant portion of the Indian community in California consists of first-generation individuals, many families face limited resources to navigate and flourish in their careers. Establishing an organization like IPA became instrumental in offering these professionals the support, resources, and mentorship necessary for personal and professional growth. The positive impact is evident, with initial memberships of 10 to 20 pharmacists and two to three independent pharmacies growing to over 300 members and 185 pharmacies. Notably, the organization is witnessing the emergence of second-generation pharmacists within its ranks.

IPA originated with the goal of fostering a sense of community among individuals of Indian origin with a background in pharmacy. Over time, it evolved into a valuable networking platform for employment opportunities and business referrals. With an expanding membership base, IPA has transformed into a resource hub for group purchasing and contracting opportunities benefiting pharmacy business owners. Presently, the organization serves as a pivotal source for mentorship, helping students and new startups, while also contributing to advocacy efforts and providing essential support. Envisioning the future, IPA aims to lead the evolution of the pharmacy profession offering education and support to members navigating industry changes.

In promoting a culture of unity within the community, IPA recognizes the significance of active participation in the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA). Encouraging its members to also join CPhA, IPA has established incentives for dual membership. The organization hosts two annual fundraisers — one in Southern California and another in Northern California — dedicated to supporting the CPh-PAC, successfully raising $70,000 to $80,000 annually. IPA collaborates with CPhA on various fronts, contributing to the Annual Legislative Day and grassroots advocacy efforts by ensuring a substantial presence at these events. This collaboration signifies a shared commitment to the advancement of pharmacy practice and the well-being of pharmacists across California.