Rewarding Pharma Job Opportunities in Nigeria
There is a tremendous array of job opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry ranging from lab-based roles, clinical trials, regulatory affairs, validation, engineering, manufacturing, quality assurance, quality control, through to pharmaceutical marketing, sales and distribution. Any individual with a given set of transferable skills can successfully embark on a new career within the life sciences.
A thorough comprehension of the various pharmaceutical stages starting from research/development, to manufacturing/production and finally to the commercialization of drug products is necessary to understand the job roles available in the sector.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
- Lab-based R&D
- Clinical Trials
- Regulatory Affairs
MANUFACTURING & PRODUCTION
- Quality Assurance
- Quality Control
DISTRIBUTION, SALES & MARKETING
- Sales & Marketing
- Other Roles
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
This initial stage is essentially about processes leading up to building the product. This potentially takes years. And what’s more, for each medication that winds up being utilized by patients, there are thousands more that never see the light of day. A lot of the R&D process happens in the labs, before proceeding onward to broader clinical trial phases. Pharma companies each have their own “pipeline” of drugs – the ones at present being developed that they hope to begin commercializing through the coming years after market authorizations and regulatory requirements are met. These regulatory approvals are critical as pharmaceutical organizations must demonstrate through clinical trial results that the new medicines are beneficial to target patient population.
Roles in Research and Development:
The 3 distinct career areas here include-
- Lab-based R&D: These roles require staff to work in labs to discover new particles or ways to improve already existing medications. Examples of jobs here include Research Scientists, Biochemists, Microbiologists, Laboratory Technicians etc.
- Clinical Trials: These roles require staff to perform distinctive research studies, usually across 4 phases to adequately guarantee the drugs safety, quality and efficacy. Examples of jobs here include Clinical Research Associates, Clinical Trial Administrators, Healthcare professionals, etc.
- Regulatory Affairs: These roles are responsible for the regulatory applications and submissions for market authorizations and after the medicine is commercialized. Examples of jobs here include Regulatory Affairs Specialist/Associate, Qualified Person (QP), Pharmacovigilance Officer, etc.
MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION
When a new medicinal product has been approved by the appropriate regulatory body, it can then be prescribed by medical doctors and sold to patients. At this stage, the pharmaceutical company can commence mass scale manufacturing and production. Manufacturing of drugs is somewhat like making any other product, however there are some significant differences. The most important being the strict and extensive amount of regulations and guidelines required to guarantee the manufactured drugs meets global standards of quality, safety and efficacy for patients who will depend on these drug products for disease treatment.
These enforced regulations govern the manufacturing processes as wells as staff training, equipment qualification, process validation, maintenance and data integrity. The regulatory authorities routinely carry out inspections and audits to ensure company compliance with stipulated regulations. Any default can be met with serious consequences including huge fines, production factory suspension and potential litigation.
Roles in Manufacturing and Production
The 6 distinct career areas here include:
- Production: These roles are responsible for operating the machines and systems that make the drug product. They usually make up largest number of job positions, sometimes as much as 50% of the engineering and production operator work force in the company. This usually makes for a good entry level for people with no prior manufacturing experience. Examples of jobs here include Process technician, manufacturing technician, clean room operator, packaging operator, process/manufacturing supervisor, etc.
- Engineering: These roles are designed for professionals with a chemical, manufacturing, industrial, electrical or other applicable engineering qualification. Examples of jobs here include Process engineers, manufacturing engineers, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, etc.
- Quality Assurance: These roles are process oriented and is specifically aimed at minimizing variations that may occur with the manufacturing process. Quality assurance is preventative by nature and strives to manufacturing activities are performed rightly the first time by implementing a series of pre-determined procedures and quality standards that guarantee the quality of the final drug product output. Examples of jobs here include Quality Assurance Specialist, QA Associate, Documentation Coordinator, etc.
- Quality Control: These roles are product oriented and is specifically aimed at testing lab product samples from the manufacturing process to ensure they meet the stipulated specifications and standards. These jobs require a science or laboratory background as most of the sample testing is performed in a lab. Examples of jobs here include Quality Control Analyst, QC Associate, QC Specialist, etc.
- Validation: These roles are responsible for the assessment and documentation of all equipment and processes to guarantee that an action, process or system can consistently lead a desired result. Examples of jobs here include Validation Technician, Validation Engineer, Validation Specialist, etc.
- Operations: These roles are required to ensure the continuous performance and maintenance of any manufacturing plant and its machinery. It encompasses people with diverse sets of transferable skills from other backgrounds and sectors. Examples of jobs here include Maintenance technician, Calibration technician, Instrumentation engineer, Facilities engineer, Automation engineer, etc.
DISTRIBUTION, SALES AND MARKETING
After a new drug product is successfully produced and manufactured with applicable regulatory approvals obtained, the company now proceeds to commercial stage through marketing, sales and distribution, to ensure the product reaches the target consumers. The principles around pharmaceutical stockpiling and distribution takes cognizance of the physical, chemical and environmental attributes of the product to make sure it reaches the patient in optimal condition.
Sales and marketing in a pharmaceutical organization follows same applicable strategies obtained in other industries, except it is strictly regulated, with several differences in what can be said about a drug product across different geographical regions. Drug product advertising and promotion activities are highly scrutinized and regulated as well.
Roles in Distribution, Sales and Marketing
The 4 distinct career areas here include:
- Medical Representative – These are the salesmen meeting with medical experts to inform them of the company’s latest products.
- Medical Science Liaison – This is typically a non-sales role that requires a professional to provide expert scientific information where required.
- Marketing Assistant – This is a member of the marketing team, usually a junior role responsible for carrying out general marketing assignments.
- Marketing Executive – This is a member of the marketing team, usually a senior role responsible for managing and creating marketing materials to drive company sales and increase financial revenue.
Other roles in this career category worth highlighting include Supply Chain, HR, Logistics, Warehouse, Finance, Administration, etc.