Pharmaceutical physicians work with pharmaceutical industries, research organisations, medical regulatory bodies (such as the MHRA) or as independent practitioners to develop, evaluate and market new medicines for the benefit of patients and the health of the community.
This page provides useful information on the nature of the work, the common procedures/interventions, sub-specialties and other roles that may interest you.
Nature of the work
Pharmaceutical physicians are clinically-trained but do not continue to have direct responsibility for patient care. They apply their skills to the discovery, development, evaluation, registration, monitoring and medical aspects of the marketing of medicines. They work within the strict pharmaceutical legal and regulatory framework, and additionally within ethical and professional codes of medical governance to minimise risks to patients. The specialist pharmaceutical physician should be registered and retain a licence to practise with the GMC by engaging in annual appraisals and revalidation every five years.
The role of the pharmaceutical physician has widened to cover all areas of pharmaceutical medicine including:
- drug candidate selection
- clinical research
- medical marketing
- drug safety and pharmacovigilance
- regulatory affairs
- medical and scientific affairs
- societal and public health issues relating to pharmaceuticals in the wider context of healthcare delivery
Want to learn more?
Find out more about:
- the working life of someone in pharmaceutical medicine
- the entry requirements and training and development
Pay and conditions
This section provides useful information about the pay for junior doctors (doctors in training), specialty doctors, consultants and general practitioners.
NHS Employers provides useful advice and guidance on all NHS pay, contracts terms and conditions.
Medical staff working in private sector hospitals, the armed services or abroad will be paid on different scales.
Where the role can lead
This page provides useful information about opportunities within this specialty.
Work in the research-based ethical pharmaceutical industry has R&D as an intrinsic feature. Within this, there are opportunities for individuals to specialise in laboratory-based or clinical research-based projects related to products, product class or even therapy area.
There are also some opportunities for personal specialist research and qualification, such as PhD programmes registered with a university, although this does not have the same emphasis as in an academic medicine setting.
There are opportunities to teach:
- internal company representatives, medical department colleagues and clinical trials teams
- external investigator site teams and the medical, nursing and scientific professionals connected with clinical trials
- postgraduate students (for university-appointed pharmaceutical physicians)
Pharmaceutical medical specialists can also pursue options outside the medical department such as in:
- commercial or corporate management
- corporate strategy and business development
- medico-legal, communications, economic disciplines within pharmaceutical and the wider healthcare industries
Job market and vacancies
This page provides useful information about the availability of jobs, finding vacancies and where to find out more.
Job market information
NHS Digital regularly publish workforce statistics which show the number of full time equivalent consultants and doctors in training for each specialty: NHS Digital workforce statistics.
Competition ratios for medical specialty training places are published on Health Education England's specialty training webpage.
Where to look for vacancies
All trainees apply through the online application system Oriel. You will be able to register for training, view all vacancies, apply, book interviews and assessment centres, and manage offers made to you.
Some jobs will be advertised on the NHS Jobs website.
The BMJ Careers website also advertises vacancies.
Most employers will post vacancies on their websites and in medical journals such as the BMJ and many also use recruitment agencies and internet channels such as LinkedIn.
The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine of RCPs of the UK is responsible in the UK for pharmaceutical physicians and their training and revalidation.
The British Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians provides job vacancy email alerts.