What is a Qualified Person (QP) and how can I become one?

What is a Qualified Person (QP)?

QPs assure the quality of our medicines, so it’s important they’re well trained and fully understand how pharmaceuticals are manufactured.

As a QP you’ll be legally responsible for certifying batches of medicinal products before they’re used in clinical trials or available on the market. You’ll also need to understand the factors that can affect the safety of medicines and supply chains.

Read more What is a Qualified Person (QP) and how can I become one?

The Future Looks Bright for Pharmacy!

by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

As a pharmacist working for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, I have the privilege of meeting the bright young leaders of the future. I have just returned from the annual conference of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) in Nottingham and was blown away by their enthusiasm for pharmacy and their ideas for the future.

Read more The Future Looks Bright for Pharmacy!

I’m on my way to my Peer Discussion…

It’s been a few months since my last update – so as a reminder, I asked my colleague RX to be my peer – she eagerly accepted (I do hope that means she is not going to have a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to my Peer Discussion?!). I also gave some thought to where I would like the discussion to take place and settled on an office at work.

So, the day has arrived and I am on my way for my very first ‘formal’ Peer Discussion!

I am sitting at the bus stop waiting to be ferried to the office where I have booked a room. To get the best out of my Peer Discussion I sent my peer RX a short summary of a current role of mine that I want to discuss. I also sent her the RPS Peer Discussion prompt sheets for the peer and the practitioner (that’s me!). So we are all set and I am looking forward to the beginning of a new relationship – albeit a learning one.  Except, typically of me, I am mulling, in the midst of a very crowded bus shelter (with people cowering from driving rain), whether discussing something else might be more useful – I want to get the most of my time with RX.  Deep in reflection I am pulled out of my thoughts when the old lady next to me gets up for her bus and before I know it, she is on the floor and there is blood coming from her head on the pavement.  A mother and daughter, a young man and me spring from the bus stop and attempt to stop her bleeding and call an ambulance.  We lift her onto the bench, she is fragile with the most piercing blue eyes – I look at her closely, she seems in full control of her senses.  We wait for the ambulance.

A little while later, I am back on the bus and back in reflective mode (who’d have thought London buses were good for reflection – mind you it is some way prior to the schools’ ejection hour and the kids taking control of public transport!).  I think about the old lady we just helped.  It would seem a possible subject for the Peer Discussion – I could discuss how I managed the situation and what my learning gaps might be.  Alas I am no longer in clinical practice so I cannot relate it to a current role and the old lady was a member of the public rather than a service user.  So whilst my reflection was interesting, it wasn’t that useful as that specific instance would be outside the GPhC’s requirements. However I am then on a roll and other potential work areas start to whirl round my head – a big project I am involved in, a controversy I caused at a board meeting (may be not), my recent appraisal and my need to understand Microsoft planner – a project management tool (how will we stay awake discussing that?).

As the bus nears its destination, I decide to stick to the original plan.  After all, it wouldn’t be fair to spring a new topic on RX plus I will get more out of this experience if RX knows what I want to talk about.  I will discuss a role I have advising a panel on pharmacy education.  I am one of only two pharmacists amongst a plethora of medics, nurses, healthcare scientists and allied health professionals.  I want RX to help challenge and support my practice here as it is more isolated (this is one of the reasons the General Pharmaceutical Council set-up the Peer Discussion – to make sure people in my position continue to improve their practice). We can explore that I have learnt everything I need to and that I can communicate effectively to the panel who in this case are my service users that need benefiting – a GPhC requirement. I can’t help thinking that the old lady at the bus stop was typical of my previous service users in a hospital less than a mile from the location of my Peer Discussion…. Join me for the next exciting installment – how did my Peer Discussion go?!

Read Chris John’s other blogs all about his Peer Discussion journey here

Do you need prior industry or research experience?

The Biopharmaceutical and life science sector can be quite conservative so having experience and some knowledge of the sector will help if you want to join the industry. The larger companies will look to take calculated risks so any “extra” comfort that you can offer regarding your experience, skills and understanding that match the sector, and the role, will help differentiate you from those without it.

Draw on your experience of the science and pharmacology and any additional insight you have from dealingwith the public and healthcare provision. If you are new to the biopharma sector then it would be time well spent to make contact with those who have already enjoyed time in the sector or those who have recently joined the industry.

Tap into your networks of contacts via social media, the RPS, and see if you can grab a coffee, skype or phone call to explore the industry and roles that interest you. See if you can also attend some events to bring you into contact with relevant individuals and businesses. The industry has many support associations and recently they have come together under the banner of United Life Sciences (ULS), a strategic partnership representing over 1100 life science and healthcare organisations across the UK and internationally. These associations offer resources, events, tips, news, statistics and access to positions and leaders in the sector.

ULS was formed a few years ago by the BioIndustry Association (BIA), Bionow, BioPartner UK, One Nucleus (ON) and MediWales.

https://onenucleus.com/ (Cambridge)

https://www.bioindustry.org/(London)

https://www.mediwales.com/(Cardiff)

https://www.bionow.co.uk/home.aspx (Manchester)

Big pharma is represented by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (they share a floor with the BIA in Victoria, London).

http://www.abpi.org.uk/ (London)

Medium sized biopharma is connected to the Ethical Medicines Industry Group

http://emig.org.uk/ (London)

Scotland is covered by Life Sciences Scotland https://www.lifesciencesscotland.com/

LinkedIn is the best social media platform for business related follow up so make sure your profile is up to date and you highlight the skills and experience you have that fits the sector. Try to find people that work at the companies you are interested in to get an insider’s view and see if you can get a warm introduction to someone who can open a door for you. In addition if you are able to find out about the values of the company and put together some examples of when you have genuinely exhibited those in your work this will be well received.

The industry is constantly changing and evolving so keep up to date with the news flow. No company takes new molecular entities (NMEs) from pre-clinical drug discovery to launch without multiple collaborations, partnerships and alliances so giving examples of when you have successfully managed projects, and people, who are not under your direct influence or control will leave a positive impression and is seen as a key leadership skill.

Similar understanding how convergence technology, data science, AI, machine learning and digital health is impacting the sector is a good conversation topic.

In blog 3 we will look at what you can expect once you make the step into industry and what sort of career pathyou can choose

Read Tarquin’s previous blog:
What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer?

Visit our Industrial Pharmacy careers hub here.

Time to Influence

by Ross Gregory, Head of External Relations, Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales

Ross Gregory, Head of External Relations, RPS Wales
Ross Gregory, Head of External Relations, RPS Wales

Time to Influence 

Throughout the year, RPS speaks on behalf of its members in Wales at the highest strategic levels. We do this with pride and professionalism to influence the change we want to see in health care. Most importantly, we can help improve patient outcomes through the interventions of pharmacists.   

While the issues vary considerably, one variable remains a constant: influencing change takes time. The recent publication of a National Assembly report into dependency on prescription drugs reminded us of this very fact.   Read more Time to Influence

What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer? 

By Tarquin Bennett – Coles
Principle Consultant, Life Sciences EMEA & US at Carmichael Fisher

According to figures from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) the biopharmaceutical industry the number of pharmaceutical enterprises has been increasing since 2010.  According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), by 2015 the number of enterprises operating in the UK was 573 (manufacturer of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations). The number of employees in the UK working in the sector in 2016 was 63,000 with 24,000 dedicated to R&D. 

The scale of the sector means there are opportunities for new joiners at all levels covering lab based positions to externally focused sales positions and everything in between. Trained pharmacists and technicians will already have a knowledge of the pharmacology of drugs and in many cases will have dealt with questions from patients and the public that will give them insight into the benefits and challenges of developing new drugs, supply chain, compliance and convergence of digital health technology with the sector.   Read more What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer? 

Support the RPS Board candidate you believe in

As the guy who, (used to be), on the telly, I know what it feels like to put your head above the parapet.

I had to accept I wouldn’t get everything right, and that critique and criticism, (thanks mum) was part of the gig.

As people start to think about standing for election to the RPS National Pharmacy Board, it’s worth bearing in mind that we are talking about passionate pharmacists who want to make a positive difference to the profession.   Read more Support the RPS Board candidate you believe in

Women in early pharmacy

By Matthew Johnston, RPS Museum

“There is an impression that women are something new in pharmacy, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

These were Jean Kennedy Irvine’s words on her election as the first woman President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1947.

Medieval monasteries

In her speech, Jean also mentioned the early beginnings of community pharmacy in the medieval monasteries, where residents would grow medicinal plants to treat themselves and local people.

One of the oldest items on display in the RPS Museum is a stone mortar from a Spanish nunnery (AD 410-1500), used for preparing medicines. The Hanbury Collection of the RPS Library also contains a later copy of the ‘Physica’, a work by St Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen. Originally written in the 1100s, it outlines the medicinal properties of various drugs obtained from the natural world. Read more Women in early pharmacy

I am what I am! LGBT History Month

By Mike Beaman, FRPharmS, retired pharmacist

I am writing this blog in support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s response to LGBT History Month.  Although not a gay activist I have, nevertheless, been generally open about my lifestyle since coming to terms with being a gay man back in the early 1970s.

I was born in 1947 so I was 19 and a university undergraduate when the legislation decriminalising homosexuality became law in 1967. I was already a young adult and therefore having an intimate relationship with another man before that time would have been a criminal act and would also have resulted in my being sent down from university and unable to eventually register as a pharmacist. Read more I am what I am! LGBT History Month

Biosimilar adalimumab is a test of shared decision making in the NHS

Co-written by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society, RNIB, Birdshot Uveitis Society, Psoriasis Association and Crohn’s & Colitis UK

The entry of new biosimilars and the creation of an NHS ‘local market of treatment options’ will see significant numbers of patients switched from the originator product, Humira, to one of four biosimilar alternatives this year.

Adalimumab is one of several biological drugs used in the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, non-infectious posterior uveitis, Crohn’s and colitis.

While some patients will take this in their stride, for others the change will be met with feelings of apprehension. Read more Biosimilar adalimumab is a test of shared decision making in the NHS