Royal Pharmaceutical Society

What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer?

By Tarquin Bennett-Coles - Senior Executive Search Consultant, George James Ltd

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.

In general, those from a pharmacist background make strong candidates for positions in the biopharmaceutical industry and life science support businesses.

In the UK we have a rich history of success in this industry and as a consequence we have global players and homegrown successes (GSK, AZ) based here, as well as a number of clusters of smaller companies at an early stage of growth. These include small spin-outs companies from university, SMEs focused on orphan or rare diseases, vaccine specialists and those using diagnostic tools, AI and digital platforms to speed up the drug discovery and development process.

There are numerous life science networking and support organisations that help bring the diverse parts of the industry together.

It is a vibrant sector with constant change at the core of the business model as new technologies, innovation and collaboration continues to drive the pace of new drug discovery and development for the benefit of patients.

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