Seizing New Opportunities in the Pharmacy Industry

Will Soliman, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) discusses the exciting opportunities available to pharmacists in the pharma industry, in an interview with The Nontraditional Pharmacist.

Will Soliman, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) discusses the exciting opportunities available to pharmacists in the pharma industry, in an interview with The Nontraditional Pharmacist (NP).

NP: What is your background, and your role within the pharmaceutical community?

Will: As you know, I’m not a pharmacist, I’m a PhD. I’m married to a pharmacist, I guess that comes close. But I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for almost 20 years, and I worked most of the time in an area called Medical Affairs, and started the ACMA about 5 years ago.

NP: What is the ACMA?

Will: The ACMA is a global organization. We have offices in the US, in Europe, Asia; Mumbai, India, as well as in South America. And even in now, just recently in Abu Dhabi, and the United Arab Emirates, and our learners are all over the world. We actually have what’s known as a global redirect technology in our learning system. So if you’re based in Japan, the board certification of credentialing you would get would be a little bit more relevant for that part of the world. And if you’re in, let’s say Brazil, it would be the same situation. And the reason for that is, as you may know, a lot of the rules and regulations from a compliance standpoint are a little different when you go from country to country or region to region. So now actually, we have learners in over 35 countries. And so it’s a very much a global program and it’s growing; we get people from all over the world.

NP: What are the some of the specific opportunities available to pharmacies as it relates to pharma?

Will: Great question. So I’ll kind of go through role by role. Probably the most It’s popular for a number of reasons, most of which I think really relates to the fact that when you’re an MSL, you’re out, you’re engaging health care providers, you’re working usually from the field or from your home. It’s not a routine type of job. You get to build relationships, you’ve got to educate and present. I think you can relate as pharmacist or physician or a PhD, innately we like to educate. And so that’s part of the role as well and collaborating with different crossfunctional groups. So that’s definitely, I think, 1 job, is the MSL job.

The other job, I think, and the other opportunity for pharmacists, certainly is medical information or drug information. And those are typically more headquarters based type roles where you’re working in a call center. And again, this can range in terms of what you would be involved in, everything from being able to take calls, inbound calls that come in from health care providers or patients, all the way to being involved in promotional, regulatory, medical, legal review of materials that would eventually go out to health care providers.

Another area is drug safety or what we call pharmacovigilance. This is an area where they love to have pharmacists because it’s an area where you’re analyzing data, you’re trying to look at trends in terms of adverse events, drugs to drug interactions. Based on that data, you might discover gaps and needs when it comes to new studies that need to be looked at or developed to address certain issues that might impact the medical community.

Another area is in medical communication and scientific communications, which also includes publication planning. And this is an area where you would be involved in understanding and planning what’s the long term strategic plan for publications for a particular product or device, etc.

And then the other two things that I would mention that a lot of people aren’t aware of, and where there’s opportunities if you’re going to some of these websites and looking for jobs, is looking at medical education companies, promotional medtech companies, advertising agencies who serves the pharmaceutical industry. So if you’re having a difficult time breaking into a pharma company, I would consider looking at some of these agencies who are solutions providers to pharma. A lot of these companies are looking for people that have clinical backgrounds. And so these are companies that are looking for people that would have titles like scientific director or medical director. You typically start an associate level. A lot of times there’s a lot of medical writer positions.

And in the last area, I would say is managed care. So you have companies like United, Aetna, Optum, Cigna, all these companies, they would love to have professionals with a background in pharmacy who can work with these providers to look at and assess records of patients, information from health care providers and try to understand the business needs and what not. And also collaborating with Pharma on their end. And so there are different areas, it’s not just strictly Pharma but I would say those three verticals are where you’re going to find a lot of opportunities.