THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: CONTRIBUTING TO BETTER MEDICINES
Drs. Patel, Singh, and Whalen are postdoctoral fellows in the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program. Dr. Alexander is director of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Dr. Barone is professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
Career options for today'spharmacists are not limited to thetraditional community practice orhospital settings. Pharmacists workingin the pharmaceutical industryhave become integral members ofteams that analyze drug interactionstudies, design phase 3 clinical studies,submit new drug applications,and develop marketing strategies.With a career in the pharmaceuticalindustry, a pharmacist has an unparalleledopportunity to make a significantcontribution to the developmentand delivery of medicines to patientsaround the world.
The pharmaceutical industry offerschallenging and highly satisfyingnontraditional career opportunitiesfor pharmacists. Many pharmacistsmistakenly assume that working for apharmaceutical companymeans workingin a laboratory, in amanufacturing site,or in the field as asales representative.Although pharmacistsin the industrydo not generally havedirect patient interaction,their primary focus remainson the development and delivery ofnovel and improved therapies to helppatients better manage their diseases.The strong clinical knowledge andmedicinal expertise of pharmacistsadd tremendous value to various disciplinesof drug development andcommercial functions, includingclinical pharmacology, clinical research,regulatory affairs, medicalinformation, medical affairs, marketresearch, and marketing. This commitmentto patient care also drivesmultidisciplinary project teams, manyof which now include global teammembers, fostering interaction, collaboration,and learning from adiverse array of experts and colleagues.
Additional advantages of a careerin the corporate setting includeopportunities forcontinuous professionaldevelopmentand growth, lateraland upward mobility,and collaborationwith corporateand clinical decisionmakers. With theadvancements inmedical technology, the pharmaceuticalindustry is constantly expandingits efforts to discover, develop, andmarket new medicines, thereby creatingmore employment opportunitiesfor pharmacists.
Although PharmDs are highly valuedin this dynamic, fast-paced industry,new PharmD graduates oftenencounter difficulty in securing thetype of position they desire due to lackof experience. Postgraduate trainingoften is necessary to develop the coretechnical and scientificcompetenciesrequired to performsuccessfully in apharmaceutical industrysetting.
So how can pharmacistsobtain postgraduatetraining tohelp lead them totheir ideal industry career? To helpbridge the experience gap and meetthe growing demand for pharmacistsin an industry setting, a number ofpharmaceutical industry?focusedpostgraduate training programs forpharmacists, or fellowships, are available.A fellowship is typically a 12- or24-month structured program designedto provide a PharmD graduatewith the opportunity to gain specialized,hands-on, in-depth training andexperience in a particular disciplinewithin the pharmaceutical industry.A fellowship can be a rewardingexperience for both the fellow andthe host company, and it ultimatelyhelps pharmacists to gain the experiencenecessary to qualify for full-timepositions that they could not obtaindirectly out of pharmacy school.
One example of a successful, highlyrecognized, and trusted postgraduatetraining program for pharmacistsis the Rutgers Pharmaceutical IndustryFellowship Program. This programhas one of the most proventrack records of any fellowship programof its type.
RUTGERS PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY FELLOWSHIPS
In 1984, the Ernest Mario School ofPharmacy, formerly the Rutgers Collegeof Pharmacy, and 2 pharmaceutical companies embarked upon a collaborativepilot program to evaluatethe potential contributions of clinicallytrained pharmacists within a pharmaceuticalindustry practice setting.Based on the initial success of thepilot, the program has grown exponentiallyover the past 23 years. Sinceits modest beginning, the RutgersPharmaceutical Industry FellowshipProgram has expanded to include 13different companies within the pharmaceuticalindustry and related medicalcommunications businesses.
The Rutgers Pharmaceutical IndustryFellowship Program was modeledafter academic-based residenciesand fellowships, in which a learnedpreceptor/mentor shared his or herknowledge and experience with theresident/fellow through an intense butclosely guided training program.Assignments and projects are challenging,meaningful, and designed toenhance understanding of the pharmaceuticalindustry and the fellow'sfunctional area.
Under the leadership of Dr. JosephA. Barone, chair of the Departmentof Pharmacy Practiceand Administration,Dean JohnL. Colaizzi, and Dr.James G. Alexander,a fellowship alumnusand now directorof the Institutefor PharmaceuticalIndustry Fellowships,the program has thrived andthe fellowships have been highlysought after by PharmD graduatesfrom around the country.
Approximately 450 postdoctoralfellows have completed the programto date, most of whom are pursuinginfluential and rewarding careers inthe pharmaceutical industry throughoutthe United States and abroad.The Fellowship Program annuallyconsists of 75 PharmDs, in either a 1- or 2-year fellowship. The continuinggrowth and success of the programhas been due to the emergence of thePharmD as the soleprofessional degreeas well as an industry-wide desire touse clinical pharmaciststhroughoutthe pharmaceuticalindustry's corporatestructure.
KEY ASPECTS OF THE RUTGERS FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM INCLUDE:
- Career path introduction: Fellowswho perform well in theirwork are rewarded with increasinglychallenging assignmentsthat build experience andenhance the potential for successfulcareer development.
- Outstanding alumni track record:Some 450 alumni holdprominent positions in industryand continue to climb the careerladder at 40 different companies.
- Family of leading companies:Rutgers' partners include many ofthe top global pharmaceuticalcompanies, providing exceptionalpersonal and professional growthand networking opportunities.
- Rigorous academic component:The academic affiliation with theRutgers University Ernest MarioSchool of Pharmacy and an adjunctfaculty appointment providecredibility and structure,distinguishing it from other industry-based training programs.
- The pathway to industry: Nowin its 23rd year, the Rutgers programis nationally recognized,trusted, and proven as the pathwayto industry for pharmacists.
The Rutgers program screens applicantswho have a doctor of pharmacydegree from a school of pharmacyaccredited by the AccreditationCouncil for Pharmacy Education andpossess an interest in pursuing acareer in the pharmaceutical industry.As fellows are selected on a nationallycompetitive basis, the applicationprocess for the RutgersPharmaceutical Industry Fellowshipis challenging and requires candidatesto be proactive. Pharmacy studentswho are interested in the pharmaceuticalindustry are encouragedto meet with their faculty mentorsand advisers to discuss and contrastall potential career options.
Additionally, candidates are encouragedto attend the Fellowship InformationDay held each Novemberat Rutgers University to have a uniqueopportunity to meet current fellowsand company representatives andlearn about available fellowship opportunitiesbefore the interview processbegins at the American Society ofHealth-System Pharmacists MidyearClinical Meeting in December.
Prospective candidates who areinterested in Fellowship InformationDay and/or the postgraduate trainingopportunities available through theInstitute for Pharmaceutical IndustryFellowships should visit pharmafellows.rutgers.edu/home.php.