Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The pharmaceutical industry - could there be a role for you?

by Dr Andy Jenkins (PhD, MRPharmS), Medical and Scientific Liaison Manager, Tillotts Pharma UK

As with all things in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. The pharmaceutical industry had always intrigued me, but I knew little about the area and the roles and opportunities available, having worked as a hospital and community pharmacist throughout my career. It was only when I spoke to friend some years ago, who had recently begun a role in the pharmaceutical industry, that I discovered a range of opportunities well suited to the skills of pharmacists and researchers.

Following this conversation, I started to read more about possible industry opportunities and found the skills developed as a pharmacist could be utilised in a wide range of roles including within medical affairs, regulatory affairs, clinical research, sales and marketing. I took the plunge and was fortunate enough to be offered a position as a Medical and Scientific Liaison Manager (MSL) within the Medical Affairs team at Tillotts Pharma UK - a company which specialises in providing treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.

The MSL role has allowed me to get involved in a wide range of projects around developing and delivering medical and scientific education and research. As Tillotts has a focus on gastroenterology, I’m required to work closely with a range of consultant gastroenterologists, nurses, specialist pharmacists and regulatory bodies across the UK and internationally. We work to produce and deliver high-quality medical education in a range of formats, including educational presentations to a range of healthcare professionals and internal staff, publishing articles for magazines/websites targeting both healthcare professionals and patients, conducting research projects (e.g. independent research and in collaboration with Cardiff School of Pharmacy) and attending national and international conferences.

The diversity of my role is something I really like, with each project providing new and interesting challenges. I also really enjoy engaging with a range of healthcare professionals about our disease area and trying to help where possible in improving the care they provide to patients, whether that be through providing education, supporting service development or supporting research and innovation.

Tips if you think the pharmaceutical industry could be for you

1) Explore the possibilities. There are many possible options for pharmacists which suit a range of skills and personalities, from the outward-facing (like my role in medical or in marketing, sales, etc.) to the more internal and analytical (such as clinical trials, drug development, regulatory affairs, etc.).

2) Understand the company. It is important to understand as much about the company and the role you are going for as possible, including their specialisms and core values. If you have a current specialism this could help when applying for companies which work in a similar field as this will give you a good foundation knowledge to hit the ground running – although don’t worry if you don’t as I didn’t and your general healthcare knowledge as a pharmacist will help you pick it up quickly!

3) Show off your skills. As a pharmacist you will have developed a wide range of clinical and practical skills throughout your career which makes you well suited to roles within pharmaceutical industry so don’t be afraid to show those off.

4) Persevere. The industry can be a tough nut to crack at times and can take a number of applications before you are successful. Don’t let this put you off though. The pharmaceutical industry will undoubtedly have a role that will suit you and can provide exciting and rewarding career prospects.

Overall, if you are interested in science and research, I would encourage you to go and find out more about the opportunities in pharmaceutical industry.

Click here to find out more about working in the pharmaceutical industry.

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