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    Hello studentroom. What can you tell me about working in the pharmaceutical industry? I'm doing A Levels in science and maths, and want to work in the industry, research and development. I have a limited knowledge of what the industry is like, but that will change soon as I have some work experience at Glaxo lined up soon. I don't want to do Pharmacy because I'm not interested in the patient side of things, and specifically want to focus on the science behind pharmaceuticals, although I have been told Pharmacy has better career prospects and Pharmacology is a risky degree to take up. I'm not bothered about making loads of money, I just want to have a secure job doing something which really interests me... I'll happily do a masters and maybe a PHD if that is necessary. People tell me that the pharmaceutical industry is dieing in the UK and many companies are setting up new r&d headquarters abroad, mainly China.

    So, what are your opinions on a 4 year sandwich pharmacology degree, with a year in industry? Are there any glaring issues with the career, I'm looking for any insight here, and advice on the best path to take to become involved. Thanks a lot in advance.
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    Hiya,

    I'm just a current MPharm student, so take what I say with a pinch of salt As much as I want to try convince you to do MPharm, if you're not at all interested in patients, I cannot recommend it. The whole career of being a Pharmacist has the patient at the very centre, and it's a theme that runs throughout most of the lectures in some way or another. You're right in that Pharmacy has a better prospect odds are than Pharmacology(which, by the way, is my favourite part of the degree, love that subject ,) but it all depends on what you want to do after. A sandwich course would be a good idea, getting your foot in the door for jobs afterwards. Bear in mind that Pharmacology isn't the only way into the industry, Chemistry and Biology also play a big part, and many chemists, biologists work in the industry alongside Pharmacists and others!

    WRT state of the industry. Yes, it's not all sunshine and roses, with some factories being closed down in 2015, I forget by which company. But it's still going to be here in some capacity, especially as GSK have announced a while back they plan to invest £500 million and create a load more jobs with the opening of new factories come 2020. Here's the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17465090
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    This is the reason I am feeling a bit lost. The MPharm course looks really interesting and is a great way to get a secure and well paying job working with pharmaceuticals, but the issue for me is I really want to make research and development my full-time occupation, but it seems to be quite difficult to make a lifelong career out of pharmaceutical research. My ideal job has been to investigate and understand to a very high level the actions of substances on the body and the patient/commercial side of pharmacy just wouldn't offer me that exposure, so I'd always be feeling a little bit underused if I became a pharmacist. If only the pharmaceutical industry was thriving in the UK (or at all) - I'd be absolutely sorted! It sounds that most of the research has already been carried out, and because of patenting, many more future drug discoveries will be under tight control.

    Argh, maybe I will just have to become a pharmacist and keep up the study in my spare time.

    Any more insight into the future of the pharmaceutical industry would be really appreciated! Please give me the optimism I need to choose a chemistry/pharmacological route instead of a pharmacist route.
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    (Original post by pharmachemist)
    This is the reason I am feeling a bit lost. The MPharm course looks really interesting and is a great way to get a secure and well paying job working with pharmaceuticals, but the issue for me is I really want to make research and development my full-time occupation, but it seems to be quite difficult to make a lifelong career out of pharmaceutical research. My ideal job has been to investigate and understand to a very high level the actions of substances on the body and the patient/commercial side of pharmacy just wouldn't offer me that exposure, so I'd always be feeling a little bit underused if I became a pharmacist. If only the pharmaceutical industry was thriving in the UK (or at all) - I'd be absolutely sorted! It sounds that most of the research has already been carried out, and because of patenting, many more future drug discoveries will be under tight control.

    Argh, maybe I will just have to become a pharmacist and keep up the study in my spare time.

    Any more insight into the future of the pharmaceutical industry would be really appreciated! Please give me the optimism I need to choose a chemistry/pharmacological route instead of a pharmacist route.
    General "motivational" start: If you really want to do a chem/pharmacology degree, and go into the industry that way, do it. A degree is 3yrs, 4 if you took a sandwich (or the MPharm,) that's a long time, you want to make sure you take the right course, instead of doing something that you feel "eh" about.

    When you say "most of the research has already been carried out," I've really got to disagree with you. Yes, some areas are hitting brick walls, and yes, some patents do tie some medicines up, but there is still a LOT we don't know, especially when it comes to things like cancer, recently antibody based treatments have started to come to the fore for cancer, and is an area which holds lots of promise for the future. That's not even touching on regenerative medicine.

    People are still getting sick, and as long as people are still getting sick without us having "perfect" ways to cure them, research will be carried out.

    "understand to a very high level the actions of substances on the body" That's almost the definition of Pharmacology in a nut shell. It's worth pointing out that this and drug discovery aren't always overlapping though. Yes, a NCE (new chemical entity,) may have been discovered by looking at a certain target site, and reverse engineering a drug to have the correct groupings in the right places. This method is especially becoming more common as we get better and better at using things like computer modelling to simulate, say, the pore shape in a ligand gated ion channel. But, if you're merely designing a drug molecule to block receptor X, that's not all Pharmacology covers. If the drug is designed to block receptor X, it may then be passed onto a pharmacology team to discover what else it does in the body, HOW it blocks that receptor(is it an agonist vs antagonist,) what blocking that receptor does.

    Even though I've said "do what you want to do, it's not fruitless," I'm still going to fight for the MPharm here in my last paragraph. Qualified Pharmacists work in teams in industry on projects like drug discovery, formulation, and other branches necessary. This is in part due to someone needing to think of the patient at an early stage, to avoid termination (and thus, a large waste of money,) at a later stage due to an oversight, but also in part due to their almost unique ability to communicate with other members of the team. The MPharm covers Chemistry, Biology, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology as it's main branches of sciences, 4 sciences which all need to be represented in industry. There needs to be communication between these disciplines, and this requires knowledge of the others - something a Pharmacist has.

    Good luck, I hope I'm making sense
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    Don't worry you're making a lot of sense! Thanks, I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion, it's really interesting. I have a question for you then: if I did pursue the MPharm route (because it does seem a really good degree to have) what would be the best way to attempt to get into industry, would I need to do a masters in pharmacology/organic synthesis etc? I'm becoming more convinced by the MPharm, I just worry that I will be too underqualified with the science and mainly geared for patients and community and that might put me in a worse position for pursuing research and development. Any thoughts?

    Edit: meant to ask whether the chances of getting onto a pharmaceutical graduate masters course would be a lot lower if I had an MPharm compared to say, a BSc in Pharmacology or an MChem.
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    I'm currently doing my pre-reg in industry and from my experience I would definitely recommend pharmacy. In my opinion, more pharmacists are needed in industry because the patient is at the centre of their training, so a pharmacist in early stage discovery would prevent a lot of inappropriate drugs being made from the start! For example a cancer drug that would need to be injected 20 times a day would never make it to market, but a pharmacist would know that straight away! If you want to do higher level research you'd need a PhD and a pharmacy degree would prepare you for that perfectly, plus you could locum through it.
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    (Original post by pharmachemist)
    Don't worry you're making a lot of sense! Thanks, I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your opinion, it's really interesting. I have a question for you then: if I did pursue the MPharm route (because it does seem a really good degree to have) what would be the best way to attempt to get into industry, would I need to do a masters in pharmacology/organic synthesis etc? I'm becoming more convinced by the MPharm, I just worry that I will be too underqualified with the science and mainly geared for patients and community and that might put me in a worse position for pursuing research and development. Any thoughts?

    Edit: meant to ask whether the chances of getting onto a pharmaceutical graduate masters course would be a lot lower if I had an MPharm compared to say, a BSc in Pharmacology or an MChem.

    Redmeg touched on your opening question, pre-reg placements can be found in industry. Contrary to what you may here, you do NOT need a first to get these. That'd get you into industry in some capacity without having to do anything extra, just with your degree. Of course,you've got the option of doing whatever tickles your fancy for a PhD or something.

    As for your science woes - I obviously cannot speak for biol/chem/pharmacology of course, but there is a fair bit of science in the Pharmacy course - so much so that we've been re-assured by lecturers countless times that the science we are learning IS in someway going to be applicable (I'm doubtful on the odd occasion however .) I really don't think it'll be a huge disadvantage. Yes, you'll lack some of the indepth knowledge without a doubt, but industry knows that when they're hiring Pharmacists.
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    Okay doing pharmacology in kings or Aberdeen? Which one is the best among these two? Has anyone studied in any one of these? thanks


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    (Original post by Capros)
    Hiya,

    I'm just a current MPharm student, so take what I say with a pinch of salt As much as I want to try convince you to do MPharm, if you're not at all interested in patients, I cannot recommend it. The whole career of being a Pharmacist has the patient at the very centre, and it's a theme that runs throughout most of the lectures in some way or another. You're right in that Pharmacy has a better prospect odds are than Pharmacology(which, by the way, is my favourite part of the degree, love that subject ,) but it all depends on what you want to do after. A sandwich course would be a good idea, getting your foot in the door for jobs afterwards. Bear in mind that Pharmacology isn't the only way into the industry, Chemistry and Biology also play a big part, and many chemists, biologists work in the industry alongside Pharmacists and others!

    WRT state of the industry. Yes, it's not all sunshine and roses, with some factories being closed down in 2015, I forget by which company. But it's still going to be here in some capacity, especially as GSK have announced a while back they plan to invest £500 million and create a load more jobs with the opening of new factories come 2020. Here's the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17465090
    Hi, I'm currently interested in completing MPharm degree and I was wondering if you would be able to tell me what the work load is like- how demanding it is (compared to alevels) and any general feelings?

    Thanks
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    Hey tree,

    I've only done the one term so far, so my thoughts might not be representative of the whole course. The first term certainly had us busy, during the days at least. None of the matieral was super hard, so it was rare for me to have to go back and spend time reviewing stuff/trying to get my head around it - it's just you're in for lots of contact hours. We started at 9am pretty much most days, and finishing at 3/4/5 dependant on the day. So, compared to most uni students, you're busy. I wouldn't say the work load has been too demanding so far - you have a week to prepare for each practical, and that's probably the most demanding it gets in term 1. If you're able to get into the course, you won't be shocked by the initial work.

    General feelings: loving the course, and looking forward to getting stuck into the next module
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    (Original post by Capros)
    Hey tree,

    I've only done the one term so far, so my thoughts might not be representative of the whole course. The first term certainly had us busy, during the days at least. None of the matieral was super hard, so it was rare for me to have to go back and spend time reviewing stuff/trying to get my head around it - it's just you're in for lots of contact hours. We started at 9am pretty much most days, and finishing at 3/4/5 dependant on the day. So, compared to most uni students, you're busy. I wouldn't say the work load has been too demanding so far - you have a week to prepare for each practical, and that's probably the most demanding it gets in term 1. If you're able to get into the course, you won't be shocked by the initial work.

    General feelings: loving the course, and looking forward to getting stuck into the next module
    Ah okay, what sort of things have you been learning? What uni do you go and how often do you do praticals?
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    Hello,


    Would "general pharmacy" things be too broad? I'm at Nottingham, so what I say only applies to there. Term 1 has two modules in it, "Essential Skills for Pharmacists," and "Becoming a Pharmacist," hereby abbreivated as ESP or BPH. ESP is the science module - you do Pharmacology, pharmaceutics, biology and chemistry. Maths is in this one too. Nothing too specific, just general overview/teaching of some of the skills/base knowledge required to access things in the future. BPH had a number of different lecture series' in it: law and ethics, OTC, Where do medicines come from and medicines design. So quite a broad module, but once again, just teaching you the things you need to know regardless.

    Practicals, we had five practicals this term. All in the ESP module - they were manufacture. Either did them on monday or friday, depending on your timetable. Each practical has an A session- actually doing whatever, in our case, making the medicines, and then a B session - that afternoon, where you do something related. The B session was normally clinical based, but one was a chemical analysis.
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    (Original post by Capros)
    Hello,


    Would "general pharmacy" things be too broad? I'm at Nottingham, so what I say only applies to there. Term 1 has two modules in it, "Essential Skills for Pharmacists," and "Becoming a Pharmacist," hereby abbreivated as ESP or BPH. ESP is the science module - you do Pharmacology, pharmaceutics, biology and chemistry. Maths is in this one too. Nothing too specific, just general overview/teaching of some of the skills/base knowledge required to access things in the future. BPH had a number of different lecture series' in it: law and ethics, OTC, Where do medicines come from and medicines design. So quite a broad module, but once again, just teaching you the things you need to know regardless.

    Practicals, we had five practicals this term. All in the ESP module - they were manufacture. Either did them on monday or friday, depending on your timetable. Each practical has an A session- actually doing whatever, in our case, making the medicines, and then a B session - that afternoon, where you do something related. The B session was normally clinical based, but one was a chemical analysis.
    ok thanks for your reply! Im currently doing AS bio and chem and definately would say practicals are not my strong point! As part of the course do you learn from the basics?

    Would you say its important to get work experience for when applying to university?
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    Hello,

    Manufacture is a bit different from your standard A level practicals - it's more akin to baking/cooking in my opinion! :P Lots of grinding/mixing, and measuring things out tends to be quite important. You do learn the basics - starts off easy with powders, and then progresses to solutions, suspensions then creams/ointments. It's actually quite a lot of fun, and as you only make 2 products in a 3hr slot, you do have time to redo one if needs be.
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    (Original post by Capros)
    Hello,

    Manufacture is a bit different from your standard A level practicals - it's more akin to baking/cooking in my opinion! :P Lots of grinding/mixing, and measuring things out tends to be quite important. You do learn the basics - starts off easy with powders, and then progresses to solutions, suspensions then creams/ointments. It's actually quite a lot of fun, and as you only make 2 products in a 3hr slot, you do have time to redo one if needs be.

    haha okay That really does sound fun- I do like baking!! Do you think its important to have work experience when applying to university- did you?
 
 
 
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