Careers in the Pharmaceutical Sciences

Roshan Tolani asked:

The pharmaceutical sciences have saved millions of lives and improved quality of life by playing an important role in the discovery and development of new drugs and drug therapies. As science and medicine evolve and discoveries are made at an astonishing rate, the pharmaceutical industry continues to generate billions of dollars and employ top researchers and professionals.

With accelerating advances in science and technology, the pharmaceutical industry has entered its most promising period yet for new drug development. Pharmaceutical companies are using new knowledge and techniques to attack the root causes—rather than just the symptoms—of diseases and thus are revolutionizing the ways in which new drugs are discovered and developed.

The Disciplines of the Pharmaceutical Sciences

The pharmaceutical sciences can be broadly categorized according to the following disciplines:

* Drug discovery: This discipline deals with the design and synthesis of new drug molecules and includes medicinal chemistry, combinatorial chemistry, and biotechnology.

* Drug delivery: This discipline deals with designing the forms of drug dosages and their delivery to patients. Those involved in drug delivery work to determine the best concentrations of and schedules for drugs. Sciences related to this field include pharmaceutics, biomaterials, and pharmacokinetics.

* Drug action: This discipline examines the actions of drugs in living systems. Sciences dealing with drug action include molecular biology, pharmacology, pharmacodynamics, toxicology, and biochemistry.

* Clinical sciences: This discipline deals with the use of drugs to treat diseases. Drugs’ properties, such as efficacy, adverse effects, drug-to-drug interactions, and bioavailability, are tested in clinical trials.

* Drug analysis: This discipline deals with the separation, identification, and quantification of components of drugs.

* Cost effectiveness: This discipline deals with the economics of drug usage.

* Regulatory affairs: This discipline deals with the coordination of academia, industry, and regulatory bodies.

Careers in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The research-based pharmaceutical industry is one of the strongest components of the American economy and leads the world in discovering and developing innovative new life-saving medicines.

Almost half of the most important global drugs developed between 1975 and 1994 originated in the U.S. U.S. companies developed 370 new medicines to fight dreaded diseases during this period. In 2000, the market value of the industry was greater than $379 million. The field offers a myriad of opportunities to pharmaceutical scientists.

Pharmaceutical companies employ several hundred thousand professionals in a variety of jobs in the U.S. In view of the demand for well-trained professionals, the earning potential of pharmacists is very high. According to an American Pharmaceutical Association report, pharmacists’ salaries range from around $40,000 to $70,000.

Is a Career in Pharmaceutical Sciences Right for Me?

The pharmaceutical field is a good choice for those who:

* want to work in laboratories

* desire to contribute to the health and well-being of society

* love science and excel in the subject

* enjoy professional challenges

* enjoy finding solutions to medical problems baffling scientific communities

How Can I Become a Pharmaceutical Scientist?

Get an undergraduate or advanced college degree in pharmacy, chemistry, biology, medicine, or a related field. There are many who became pharmaceutical scientists after obtaining degrees in economics, marketing, business, or other non-scientific subjects. To work as a registered pharmacist, one needs to satisfy both national and state licensing requirements. Some states require fulfillment of a certain number of continuing education credits annually to stay abreast of developments in the field.

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