Job Roles in Pharmaceuticals
When it comes to working in the pharma industry, positions are often categorised into four main areas. These are:
- Research & Development (R&D)
- Manufacturing & Supply
Research & Development
R&D within the pharmaceutical industry involves the first stages of research into molecules used to treat diseases all the way through to introducing products to the general public.
It is the most research-intensive sector in the UK, with around £4.1bn spent on R&D in 2016. The focus for individuals who work within an R&D role is to discover new leads in innovative medicines. This work is often conducted by scientists who specialise in particular areas; these include pharmacology (of course), toxicology, genetics and statistics.
Manufacturing & Supply
As mentioned above, research and development are mainly focused on the initial stages of making new medicines available to the public. When products are moved on from this stage, manufacturing and supply take over, and these are equally important. Workers within this area of pharmaceuticals include engineers, manufacturers and quality control. These individuals are responsible for supporting product production so that companies can meet both quantity and regulatory demand. Roles within manufacturing and supply come with strong commercial pressures, and constant advances in technology must be taken advantage of to improve efficiency even further.
Commercial roles within pharma companies concentrate on promoting the medicines that these companies produce. However, unlike the vast majority of normal products, prescription medicines are not allowed to be advertised to the general public in the UK. Instead, companies must promote their products to doctors who then decide whether or not to prescribe the medicines to their patients.
Promotion of medicines usually takes place within medical journals, presentations and conferences; however, the majority of information on new products comes from representatives who work within sales and marketing. Sales managers, communication professionals and economic experts all work together with the joint aim of promoting new medicines.
Just like any other business or organisation, the pharmaceutical industry requires a certain level of administrative support in order to be successful. Common roles include legal experts, who ensure that patents are taken out for the structure and synthesis of medicines; statisticians, who monitor process controls and make sure that studies are producing valid results; and regulatory affairs professionals, who collate information when it is needed to make medicines ready for approval.