6 Unique Career Opportunities for Drug Information Pharmacists

FEBRUARY 12, 2018
After completing a drug information residency, pharmacists may wonder what career opportunities are available.  Drug information residencies provide great research skills that are vital for many specialized areas. The drug information skillset may include various activities, such as research, teaching, precepting, formulary management, adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting, and participation in the pharmacy and therapeutics committee.1    

Here are 6 unique career opportunities for drug information pharmacists:

1. Medical Communications: Pharmacists who specialize in medical communications provide educational services about pharmaceutical products to healthcare professionals and consumers. Projects may include creating promotional materials, developing drug monographs, and designing presentations.2  This is a unique and nontraditional pharmacy opportunity that generally involves medical writing and research.

2. Pharmaceutical Industry: The pharmaceutical industry offers a variety of opportunities for drug information specialists. Pharmaceutical companies have their own in-house drug information services that may include providing product-specific information to healthcare professionals and consumers through their call center. Pharmacists may also be involved in reporting ADRs from the public. Manufacturers are required to report ADRs to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist with post-marketing surveillance.

3. Medical Science Liaison (MSL): The MSL career offers drug information specialists with opportunities to work with pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare industries in various therapeutic areas, including oncology, cardiology, pulmonary, and women’s health care. Responsibilities may include developing professional relationships and communicating with scientific leaders to ensure the provision of accurate drug information. Travel may be part of the job description, so it is important to consider whether this is feasible in your personal and professional life.

4. Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM): Many PBMs have internal drug information departments that are involved with formulary development, medication safety, pharmacy claims processing, efficacy and safety studies, pharmacoeconomic analyses, pharmacy audits, and prior authorization. Pharmacists may also have the opportunity to create consumer based drug information monographs. 

5. Academia Drug information specialists can play an important role in educating pharmacy students. Drug information and biomedical literature evaluation courses are a vital part of the pharmacy school curriculum. Drug information specialists can teach and coordinate these courses, as well as precept students in university and hospital based drug information centers. Students will learn how to conduct effective literature searches, respond to drug information requests, and present journal clubs.

6. FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER)3 The FDA CDER has job opportunities for pharmacists, as well as drug information fellowship programs for advanced postdoctoral training. Pharmacists working at the FDA may provide advisory, regulatory, and scientific drug information regarding new drug approvals.  Additional responsibilities may include responding to drug information requests, reviewing generic drug products, and post-marketing surveillance.
 
The best of luck in your search for a drug information career.

References
  1. Ghaibi S, Ipema H, Gabay M. ASHP guidelines on the pharmacist’s role in providing drug information. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2015; 72:573-7.
  2. Brand AK, Kraus ML. Drug information specialists. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2006; 63(8):712-714.
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pharmacist jobs in CDER. www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/ucm345209.htm. Accessed February 10, 2018.


Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2
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