The Indian Pharmaceutical Sector: The Indian pharmaceutical industry is touted by many as one of the largest of the developing world, and has also gained a reputation for producing high quality, low cost generic drugs.
The demand for a skilled workforce to power this sector, now presents unprecedented employment opportunities for aspirants.
Research and development: Research and development has several areas. The area a student chooses within R&D depends on his interest and passion. On one level he can work in drug discovery, which is discovery of a new molecule. R&D can pertain to the development of generic products, analytical R&D, API (Active Pharmaceutical ingredients) or bulk drugs R&D or development of formulation all of which have their own super specializations.
NCE or discovery research for a New Chemical Entity is a very promising area. There is a lot of reverse brain drain in this space, and we are able to attract people from the US and UK to pursue research here. This area therefore offers an opportunity to work with the best minds from across the world.
R&D can also deal with drug delivery, which can be in the form of a tablet, capsule or injection. While meat is considered food, you cannot consume it in its raw form. You have to cook it. Similarly, you need to consume drugs through the correct delivery. There are also tremendous opportunities in this area.
Quality control is a very critical function of the pharmaceutical industry. Besides researching and developing new drugs, there is also a need to ensure that drugs can be marketed as those that produce results. Which are safe consistent and predictable. Considering the pace at which this sector is producing better, more effective drugs, there is also a need for more accurate and sophisticated analytical methods to aid their evaluation.
Manufacturing pertains to actual production of the drug. In manufacturing, as aspirant can either be involved in API manufacturing while someone with a pharmacy background can also build a career in manufacturing formulations.
Screening of drugs involves testing new drugs or formulations on animal models, or conducting clinical research which is essentially human testing. Clinical research has recently witnessed a lot of international interest with foreign companies coming to India to conduct clinical research.
Pharma is a regulated industry the world over, and professionals, who can manage regulatory affairs, are in high demand. You can’t sell drugs like you sell anything else. Regulation is essentially a government affair and it is an art and science to keep abreast of all regulatory norms in the country. The regulatory sphere is not just a government sphere. For instance, if a company wants to market its product in the US then they have to go by USFDA (United States Food and Drug Association) guidelines. For this, they will have advisors within the company as well.
Unlike pharmacies and pharmacists in India, pharmacists abroad play a very important role. It is because of this gap that needs to be bridged this area offers innumerable opportunities. Pharmacists abroad are called registered pharmacists. Just like a doctor would require a license to practice medicine, they require a license to practice pharmacy. They have to pass a test and register. This is a very lucrative job abroad and offers a very high salary when patients take a doctor’s prescription to the pharmacy, the pharmacist will determine if everything seems in order. If he feels there has been an error in the prescription he has the authority to call the doctor and tell him so and also request him to make a change.
The pharmacy Council of India has started a six year program. Pharma D to provide training in this discipline.
Medical representatives or sales people must interact with physicians to promote new drugs or formulation. A person with a background in pharmacy, an MBA or even qualification within the science stream can pursue a career in sales and marketing.
Marketing is extremely important in the pharmaceutical sector. The Marketing professional deals with selling competition mapping and determining which product has more potential and the strategy for the product. He should ideally have a B Pharma with an MBA degree.
CRAM or customers Research and manufacturing is a booming area. Because of cost cuts, many foreign pharma companies outsource their manufacturing to India. Before this, their assets in India get USFDA approved after they are brought up to the prescribed standard.
Though there are PSUs like Hindustan Antibiotics and Indian Drug and Pharmaceuticals (IDPL), they are not in very good shape. Pharma students can also work with NGOs involved in public health like with the Rural Health Commission.
There are opportunities across the spectrum for support function like finance, supply chain, human resources, IT and legal for which formal education in the respective domains is required. All good companies have a legal unit, with professionals who determine whether a drug the company is planning to develop is patentable.