New Trends and Job Opportunities within the Pharmaceutical Industry

January 25, 2013

Auntie P / / CC BY-NC-SA

The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces and markets licensed medications. Numerous clinical researchers, biochemical engineers, molecular and drug designers, as well as other specialists, handle the discovery and development of the drugs. As an expanding industry, the pharmaceutical field constantly needs new professionals – from biochemical engineers and biotechnology specialists, through to patent attorneys and local pharmacists and technicians.

The pharmaceutical and pharmacy industries, although closely related, represent different functions within health care. While the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for developing, licensing and producing medications, the pharmacy industry links the chemical and health sciences and is responsible for ensuring the safe and effective distribution of pharmaceutical drugs.

Computation aiding Drug Discovery

Science and technology are constantly advancing. And so are the trends and career opportunities within these industries. Within the pharmaceutical industry, a new approach to drug modeling and development has been adopted – CADD or Computer-aided Drug Design. CADD exploits state-of-the-art technologies to expedite the drug development process and its success rate. It is target specific and structure-based and uses computational chemistry to discover, enhance or study drugs and related biologically active molecules. The computer-based approach to drug discovery has many advantages over the traditional approach – it is fast and automatic and low-cost and has a much higher success rate.

The statistics show a continuing increase in jobs within the sector of computer-aided drug design as of October 2011.

No direct academic program or degree will guarantee a job within this sphere of the pharmaceutical industry. Various degrees, however, are considered compatible with this career. Most of those involved with CADD have a master's and/or doctoral degrees either within the chemical sciences, such as pharmacology and biochemistry, or sometimes biophysics, or a background in information technology. One of the most suitable degrees if wanting to engage with CADD is Bioinformatics – it involves a combination of biological, chemical and information technology sciences.

Demand for Pharmacy Technicians

Within the pharmacy business, there has been an increased demand for pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians are health care workers who perform pharmacy-related functions, and typically work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in various locations, including local pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, care facilities or pharmaceutical manufacturers. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients, as well as instructing them on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctors' offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment received. Pharmacy technicians are also required to speak directly with the patients to increase their awareness of the importance of taking medications on time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of pharmacy technicians is expected to grow by 32% from 2010 to 2020.

The process of becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires obtaining a certification after completing an academic program at an Allied Healthcare Sciences Institution. The programs are very career-specific and will prepare you for the future responsibilities of the job.