An overview of careers in the pharmaceutical industry

Richard Bray ImageConsidering a career in Industry? Not sure where to start, or want to know all of your options? Richard Bray, Consultant Clinical Pharmacist and Technical Director of Pharmacology, takes us through a comprehensive breakdown of the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting the different roles and what to expect therein.

There are a number of different careers available to pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry, for both new graduates and those who have experience in hospital or community pharmacy. Although the majority of roles have little direct patient interaction, experience of dealing and treating patients is highly valued.

Working in Manufacturing and Quality Assurance, often leading to a Qualified Person designation after suitable training, is where you are responsible for ensuring that batches of medicines are produced correctly. With companies now manufacturing around the world, there may be opportunities for travel.

Regulatory Affairs is concerned with submissions to health authorities, according to the relevant local, regional and international regulations, guidelines and policies. It is also involved in labeling, as well as reviewing and approving advertising and promotional materials. You may be guiding the strategy and documentation of a new drug from the clinical trial phases through to regulatory submissions, supporting the product launch and beyond.

Pharmacists may work in medical information departments, where their broad knowledge base is invaluable for answering questions internally and externally from Health Care Professionals. They may also contribute to educational programmes, and evaluate publications related to the product or disease area. This is an area where community pharmacy experience is useful.

Clinical Trials are conducted both internally and utilising specialist Clinical Research Organisations, and some pharmacists find themselves working on project teams conducting studies around the world, with involvement in protocol design, study team education, logistics, diagnostics and assessments. Pharmacists with hospital experience are valued here.

Marketing and Sales are two quite different areas, and while some pharmacists may work in marketing and product management, very few are in the sales force. A business qualification may add to your chances of success in marketing, where knowledge of strategy, market forces, and the business environment is important.

Integrated closely with the pharmaceutical industry are the medical communication agencies, who create and develop many of the advertising programmes, product publications, and multimedia educational materials that the industry uses. Many pharmacists find a role there using their unique combination of a scientific background and practical healthcare experience.

Finally, some pharmacists may progress to management and executive positions in the industry, where they may combine and use their broad knowledge of the industry, the business and regulatory environment and specialist healthcare knowledge to manage and guide a department, division or company. Being able to speak another language at high level may also provide overseas assignment opportunities.


Richard Bray, BPharm, MBA, MRPharmS, FRSPH
Consultant Clinical Pharmacist/Pharmacologist – Technical Director
im5 Co., Ltd.

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