Broadening the Horizons of PharmD Graduates

Pharmacy CareersSeptember 2009
Volume 0

Dr. Murthy is a 2008-2010 fellow in Early Clinical Research and Experimental Medicine at Schering-Plough Research Institute. Dr. Nesheiwat is a 2008-2010 fellow in Global Clinical Development at Schering-Plough Research Institute. Dr. Lam is a 2008-2010 fellow in Oncology Translational Medicine Biologics at Novartis. Dr. Shih-Yi Kim is a 2008-2010 fellow in Regulatory Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Group of Consumer Companies. Dr. Morrison is a 2008-2010 fellow in Marketing—Respiratory Specialty Medicines at Novartis. Dr. Jully Kim was a 2008-2009 fellow in Medical Information at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Dr. Mahajan was a 2008-2009 fellow in Medical Education at Bimark Center and Daiichi Sankyo. Dr. Nashat was a 2008-2009 fellow in Medical Strategy at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Dr. Alexander is the director of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships. Dr. Barone is a professor and chairman of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at Rutgers University.

The Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship (RPIF) Program is a postdoctoral training opportunity for individuals with a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree. The program provides an entry pathway into the pharmaceutical industry that may otherwise be inaccessible. Various RPIF Program positions allow fellows to:

• See how patients are benefited

• Assist with clinical research that can prolong and increase the quality of life

• Develop medications that can treat and cure diseases

• Promote disease state awareness

• Sponsor community service programs

• Provide innovative patient assistance programs

The opportunities for PharmDs in industry are numerous and diverse. Some of the disciplines in which fellows and alumni of the RPIF Program work include clinical research and clinical pharmacology, regulatory affairs, marketing, medical information and medical education, medical affairs, pharmacovigilance, drug safety, and scientific communications.

Completing a pharmaceutical industry fellowship can provide access to a nontraditional, broad array of job opportunities. Rutgers fellows are able to work on behalf of patients, function as integral members of project teams, and further develop their leadership, networking, and communication skills. The fellowship provides an introduction and facilitates entry into industry, while providing hands-on training to help fellows become independently functioning professionals. The fellowship program is designed to bridge the experience gap between recent pharmacy school graduates and the entry-level job requirements of the pharmaceutical industry, while enabling participants to enter the competitive job market successfully.

The RPIF Program was founded in 1984 and has grown significantly to include 12 partner companies and almost 90 fellows annually. The well-connected and supportive RPiF Program alumni network includes over 500 Pharmds in more than 100 different companies worldwide. The program alumni work not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in medical communication companies, government agencies (eg, FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and advertising agencies. Many RPIF Program alumni have reached senior management positions following their fellowship-initiated career path. Finally, the RPIF Program also allows fellows to become involved in teaching, research, and publication opportunities.

The RPiF Program fosters the growth and development of future industry professionals by providing:

• Training opportunities with a family of leading pharmaceutical companies in the industry

• An outstanding alumni track record

• A strong network of fellows and alumni

• A trusted and proven program since 1984

• An enhanced career path

• Rigorous academic and professional development opportunities

Fellowship Opportunities

Fellows have the chance to work in broad and diverse settings in the pharmaceutical industry. select positions held by 2008-2009 RPiF Program fellows are described below:

Clinical Drug Development and Clinical Pharmacology

The purpose of running clinical trials is to establish new and improved methods of treating a variety of diseases. numerous opportunities exist for fellows in clinical research and development. a fellow may be involved in clinical science, which entails close collaboration with investigators; developing a protocol; creating study reports; involvement in clinical operations (including site and investigator selection); developing case report forms for data collection; monitoring the clinical sites; and data analysis.

Fellows also have the opportunity to be involved in any phase of research, including phase 1 studies in healthy volunteers; phase 2 and 3 studies to determine safety and efficacy in patient populations; and finally in phase 4, postmarketing research to provide follow-up safety assessments for patients using the marketed drug. Fellows may also participate with Clinical Development Teams to plan, manage, and conduct clinical trials from start to finish.

Regulatory Affairs

A primary responsibility of Regulatory Affairs (RA) staff is to provide strategic guidance for successfully moving new and innovative products through the federal regulation process. RA fellows manage the viability of investigational products by obtaining FDA approvals through submissions such as Investigational Drug Applications and New Drug Applications. Marketable products also require RA support to review advertising, promotional materials, and labeling to comply with FDA or Federal Trade Commission standards. Additionally, RA professionals serve as the primary liaison between the pharmaceutical company and regulatory authorities, domestic and global.

A fellowship in RA offers a diverse role that is challenging and fast-paced. With a need for well-developed organizational and writing skills and strong negotiating abilities, RA fellows have an opportunity to collaborate with other teams in the company to prepare and review submission of applications, which can benefit from a PharmD’s high degree of clinical knowledge.


Pharmaceutical Marketing is a diverse field that includes all the activities necessary to promote and provide a product to health care professionals and patients. marketing is often considered a central component of the development and maintenance of a drug product. marketing fellows regularly work with colleagues from various departments, including regulatory affairs, medical affairs, market research, sales, patient advocacy, managed care, and external vendors or agencies.

A core component of the marketing fellows’ role is the development of strategic and tactical plans to provide business value. Building brand awareness and support are key initiatives achieved through various tactics, including professional and consumer promotion, medical education, and key opinion leader development. Other responsibilities include budget management, competitive intelligence, sales training, and forecasting.

The clinical background of PharmDs provides a medical perspective when making decisions and can be helpful when analyzing data, interacting with physicians, designing sales materials, and planning of educational and promotional programs aimed at patients.

Medical Information and Medical Education

Medical Information (MI) is a key department within a pharmaceutical company that ensures accurate dissemination of information to internal and external customers. By answering inquiries from health care professionals about products, MI fellows help to ensure that patients receive proper care. MI fellows help in the development of an overall brand strategy by collaborating with various matrix team members. In addition, MI teams provide unbiased product information while developing and maintaining a compendium of key product data for managed care, hospital, and Medicaid formulary committees. They also provide medical input on promotional and nonpromotional materials.

A fellowship in MI builds strong competencies in medical literature evaluation, writing, and communication skills, and PharmDs can use their knowledge and expertise to provide medically sound input.

Medical Education (ME) refers to the development and implementation of educational programs for health care professionals, accredited and nonaccredited. ME fellows play a vital role in the critical analysis, development, and evaluation of me activities (eg, journal supplements, monographs, newsletters, slide decks, live symposia, and Web-based activities). Fellowship opportunities in ME represent a challenging, nontraditional career path, with the ability to build upon a PharmD’s existing clinical knowledge base.

Medical Affairs

The Medical Affairs (MA) organization is responsible for the medical positioning of a product throughout its life cycle. MA fellows work to align products to fulfill identified unmet medical needs. The organization performs its role through a wide variety of departments including but not limited to MI, Medical Field Science, Medical Strategy, and Clinical Operations. MA fellows perform a number of functions, including generating, reviewing, interpreting, and disseminating accurate and balanced medical data; training the sales force; providing medical input; and reviewing content for promotional materials.

For more information about the RPIF Program, please visit:

2009 RPIF graduates.

Recent Videos
Practice Pearl #1 Active Surveillance vs Treatment in Patients with NETs