Mike Hannay, VP of Fisher Clinical Services and Visiting Professor at DeMontfort University and University of Durham, speaks to the RPS about his varied career in Industry, why he got involved in it, what he loves about it, and all the opportunities he has gained in this field.
“If I had a plan when I was a student it was to go into community pharmacy and make it big in retail. That’s not quite how things have worked out.
So what changed? In my final year I decided a formulation project on metronidazole gel looked like the most fun and possibly the least work. What I didn’t realise at the time was that it would change my life. The product was used to manage Kopsi’s sarcoma, a common complication for AIDS patients at that time. In the 80’s with no anti-viral drugs this small project had a big impact on patient’s lives – I was hooked.
I already had a community pre-reg lined up so when I wrote to every company listed in the back of the BNF asking for a job in formulation I didn’t have any of the mythological requirements for getting into industry. I didn’t have a first, I didn’t go to the “right” university, I didn’t do my pre-reg in industry, and I certainly didn’t have a PhD. But 112 letters and 3 interviews later I got in!
That was over a quarter of a century ago and I’ve never looked back.
The great thing about pharmacy is its breadth. The understanding I developed about the science of medicines as a pharmacy student has allowed me to move into medicinal chemistry, analytical chemistry, project management, clinical development and regulatory affairs. I would also say it’s prepared me for my more recent roles in general management.
The pharmaceutical industry is a global industry and developing a medicine in the UK is very similar to developing a medicine in any other country which means you can pretty much go wherever you want to. As a family we’ve lived in the UK, Germany, Ireland and USA. We’ve loved living in different cultures, struggling with new languages and making friends that have lasted a lifetime.
I’ve been privileged to be involved in the development of medicines that have transformed the lives of millions of patients. From antibiotics through to treatments for Parkinson’s disease I’ve helped to bring over 30 new medicines to the market. I have been incredibly lucky to work with many brilliant people and a lot of different characters all of whom are bound together by their dedication to improving patient health.
The industry is changing with personalised medicines starting to become the norm rather than the exception. This new era will bring new challenges and new opportunities that desperately need the skills of a pharmacist – shouldn’t it be you?”
Vice President & General Manager,
Fisher Clinical Services
De Montfort University
University of Durham