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Navigating the Pharmaceutical Industry: Know a Career as a Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist

Pharmaceutical Scientist Technologist

Do you yearn to be part of a team of highly skilled colleagues who are passionate about developing best-in-class therapeutics that address significant unmet medical needs? Have you been dreaming of designing experiments and performing them in a laboratory to make medicines? Do you wish to be able to affect people’s lives positively on a global scale? Do you want to know the science behind pharmaceutical drugs and how they finally reach patients? Then you may want to enter the pharmaceutical industry which is emerging as one of the largest in terms of worldwide capacity and applicability, growing beyond a value of 900 billion USD in terms of worldwide sales of pharmaceutical companies.

Pharmaceutical Scientists/Technologists work to discover new drug molecules, discover new methods or systems for delivering drugs to the human body (such as tablets, liquids, injections, skin patches, gels, creams, etc.), and improve the efficiency of drugs as well as that of medications or medicines. Understand that, drug molecules are responsible for therapeutic effects (therapeutic means cure or treatment of diseases or ailments), while medications or medicines are what we consume or delivered to our body. Typically, a medication or medicine is a formulation (such as a tablet or a liquid, or an injection) that is a combination of drug molecules and other compounds (such as water, sugar powder, gelatine, and corn starch) which have no therapeutic effects.

Why become a Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist?

Pharmaceutical Scientists/Technologists work to discover new drug molecules, discover new methods or systems for delivering drugs to the human body (such as tablets, liquids, injections, skin patches, gels, creams, etc.), and improve the efficiency of drugs as well as that of medications or medicines.

Understand that drug molecules are responsible for therapeutic effects (therapeutic means cure or treatment of diseases or ailments), while medications or medicines are what we consume or delivered to our body. Typically, a medication or medicine is a formulation (such as a tablet or a liquid, or an injection) that is a combination of drug molecules and other compounds (such as water, sugar powder, gelatine, and corn starch) which have no therapeutic effects.

Pharmaceutical Scientists/Technologists also:

  • Discover and innovate drugs and medicine manufacturing systems and processes;
  • Innovate, discover, and improve analytical methods for examining or assessment of the quality of drugs, medicine formulations, and other materials used in the manufacturing of drugs and medicines;
  • Research on Human Physiology, Pharmacology, Pharmacognosy, and Medicinal Chemistry as well as work in many research areas in life sciences including Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Biotechnology.

Now, before you read about what you will do as a Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist in several fields of work, you need to understand some terms and concepts

Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API): APIs contain the drug molecules which cure a disease or ailment. Ingredients other than the APIs in medicine do not have a therapeutic (or curative) property.

Formulations: Formulations are what we consume as a medicine. We commonly refer to formulations as ‘medicines’ or ‘medications’. A formulation or a medicine contains several ingredients like API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) or a combination of APIs along with several ingredients to give several properties to the medicine. For example, sugar could be added to give a sweet taste to syrup. A binding agent could be added to a tablet. Distilled water or other liquids could be added to an injectable and so on.

Dosage forms or drug delivery systems: Drug delivery systems are ways of transporting a drug molecule into the human body. Overall, drug delivery systems consist of formulations, systems, and technologies for making sure that a drug is transferred to the human body safely and in a way so that the molecule sustains the therapeutic (or curative) property of the drug.

Drug delivery systems may consist of dosage forms and systems like oral delivery (tablets, and liquids), intra-venous injectables and intra-muscular (injections), topical (gels, creams, skin patches, etc.), transmucosal like nasal and ocular (nasal drops, eye drops, etc.), inhalation (inhalers), etc.

Generic, Patented, and OTC medicines: Generally, two kinds of drugs or medicines are available in the market. One is called ‘prescription drugs’. These drugs, as you can understand, are saleable only against a prescription by a registered medical practitioner or a doctor. The other kinds of drugs or medicines do not need a prescription to buy. These are called OTC or ‘Over The Counter drugs.

When a drug molecule is first developed, it is patented in the name of the company or the enterprise which has developed it. The patent gives the company or the enterprise the sole right to sell the drug across the world for a fixed number of years. Once the patent period is over, the drug is said to have become a generic drug and then it can be sold by any company, if approved by the drug control authorities in a country.

Biologic medicines and biosimilars: First of all, understand that the API in a formulation or a ‘medicine’ could be a synthetically produced chemical molecule or it may be derived from the living cells of an organism. If the API is the one that is derived from the living cells of an organism, then the medicine is called biological medicine. In characteristics, biological medicines consist of large molecules, much larger than synthetic drug molecules. Biologic medicines include therapeutic proteins, DNA vaccines, etc.

In generic formulations (or what we commonly referred to as ‘generic medicines’) from different pharmaceutical manufacturers, the API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient as explained above) could be the same. But in the case of biological medicine, the active ingredient could be different from different manufacturers. Although the active ingredient could be ‘similar’ they may differ in certain aspects. These are called ‘Biosimilars.’

So, what are the various fields of work and what will you do in those?

Drug discovery research

Drug discovery involves – a) chemical research – molecular research, molecule synthesis, etc. to find out a new drug molecular entity, b) biological research – this includes biological assessment of the new molecular entities that are developed through chemical research. Or, simply put, assessment of the biological properties of the new drug molecule, and c) pharmacological and medicinal research – that is, understanding the disease-curing properties of the newly developed drug molecule.

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Clinical Pharmacology

Clinical pharmacology research establishes the clinical usage of a newly discovered drug.

Clinical research

Clinical research determines the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of the newly discovered drug molecule on a human body through pre-clinical trials and after the pre-clinical trials, through various stages or phases of clinical trials like I, II, III, and IV. In the pre-clinical trials, the newly discovered drug is tested on a non-human subject like a rodent, and the clinical trials are done on humans, firstly on healthy volunteers and then on patients.

API research and development

Researching and developing newer Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) which may be a newly developed drug molecule or a compound of the molecule or a combination of the new molecule along with other molecules or compounds.

Drug delivery research

Drug delivery includes research and development of new products, improving existing products, and expanding product application and drug delivery systems.

Formulation research

This involves research to find out the right formulation for the administration of a drug molecule.

Analytical research

Many chemical and biochemical processes are involved at all stages of drug discovery, clinical research, commercialization of the drug, and manufacturing. Analytical research involves the development of chemical and biochemical methods and assessment for various processes during the discovery, commercialization, manufacturing, and quality control of drugs.

Bioinformatics/ Clinical Informatics / Pharmacoinformatics

Drug discovery processes and thereafter clinical research and clinical pharmacology produces humongous data. Bio- or clinical informatics analyses the data for various usages by pharmaceutical manufacturers and regulatory bodies.

Pharmaceutical Process research and development research

This involves research for manufacturing processes on a commercial scale. Also involves research and development of chemical processes for generic drugs and intermediates.

Quality control and quality assurance

This involves quality checking and control to ensure a pre-determined level of quality in all the medical products manufactured.

You can also find work in biologics or biosimilars:

  • Research and development of biological molecules (also called biopharmaceuticals) and biosimilars.
  • Research and development of formulations containing biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars.
  • Process research and development – involves research and development of chemical and biological/biotechnological processes for the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals and biosimilars.

Besides the above, you may also find work opportunities in:

  • OTC Research and development – this involves product and process development and optimization, analytical development, technology adaptation, etc.
  • Regulatory affairs – this involves managing the regulatory processes in terms of meeting the norms prescribed by various global practices, drug administrators, etc.
  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmacology): Pharmacologists study the actions of drugs on living systems. As for examples, they focus on how a drug affects the physical, emotional & psychological well-being of the recipient, the type of drug being used, modes of administration, how the drug is absorbed as well as the characteristics of the person taking the drug.
  2. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmacognosy): Pharmacognosy is the study and analysis of the biological, chemical, biochemical, and physical properties of medicines or crude drugs produced from natural sources such as plants, microbes, and animals. Many important drugs, including morphine, atropine, etc., have originated from natural sources and continue to be good model molecules in drug discovery. Scientists practicing in this branch also deal with the history, cultivation, collection, extraction, isolation, bio-assaying, quality control, and preparation of crude drugs of natural origin.
  3. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Biopharmaceuticals): Biopharmaceuticals include therapeutic proteins, fusion proteins, monoclonal antibodies, and antibody-drug conjugates which are all large complex molecules, > 1000 times bigger than ‘conventional’ small molecule drugs. They are more commonly called ‘biologics’.

They are composed of sugars, proteins, nucleic acids, or complex combinations of these substances, or maybe living cells or tissues manufactured in, extracted from or semi-synthesized from biological sources or isolated from living sources such as human, animal, plant, fungal, or microbial. Pharmaceutical Scientists practicing in this domain are usually PhDs. They discover such drugs by identifying bio-molecular processes inside the human body and simultaneously mapping it to the source cell.

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry): These mainly combine the two arms of Science namely Pharmacology and Organic Chemistry (mainly synthetic organic chemistry). Pharmaceutical Scientists in this field are involved with drug design, chemical synthesis, and development for pharmaceutical agents or bio-active molecules.
  2. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmacoinformatic): Pharmacoinformatic Scientists focus on the effective use of information technology (databases, digital tools/software, and online repositories) for drug discovery. The broad sub-classifications within this branch of study are many, including immunoinformatic (using databases and software for modeling & informatics of the immune system and study of immunological macromolecules to address important questions in immunobiology/vaccinology), genomics (analyzing/extracting / computing biologically relevant information from the rapidly growing biological and essential gene sequence databases), neurotics (digital organization and analysis of medical data pertaining to neurosciences), toxic informatics (for the prediction of toxicity of chemical molecules planned to be used in drugs), metabolomics (study of the disposition of a pharmaceutical compound within an organism with the help of digital tools), health informatics, etc. All of these are tied to decision-making in the pharmaceutical industry and feedback received in response to a drug so that future designing of the drugs can be made to suit the needs of the patients.
  3. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs): For getting a newly discovered drug into the market and even for selling any other drug in the market of a country, approval from the drug regulatory authority of the country is required. Without the approval of such an agency, no drug could be sold. For example, in India, there is the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and in the USA, there is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Pharmaceutical Scientists working in regulatory affairs prepares applications for approval of various drugs from the drug control authorities; manage the entire process of approval of drugs on behalf of a company; manage all affairs related to compliance to a country’s laws, rules, and regulation related to manufacturing, sales, and dispensation of drugs in a country.
  4. Pharmaceuticals Technologist (Pharmaceutics/Pharmaceutical Engineering): Tablets for oral consumption of medication have been utilized since approximately 1500 B.C., which were designed by predecessors of Pharmaceuticals Technologists! Now, Pharmaceuticals Engineers are using techniques focused on discovering, formulating, and manufacturing medication to make them more effective. For example, think of Salvarsan (intravenous injection to treat a common bacterial disease) was chemically engineered from Atoxyl that is an arsenic-containing compound that is actually harmful to humans but the structure of it was modified to make it kill the infection instead of affecting normal healthy human cells.

Then another example would be the invention of controlled release (sustained release over a 12-hour to 24-hour period) instead of immediate release (all the medication is released in the body at once by the drug). Pills were designed in such a way that they could release the active ingredient through mechanisms such as osmosis and diffusion over a longer period while traveling through our bodies. The controlled release timescale can be extended to the order of months too!

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance): Quality Assurance officers manage activities and responsibilities required to ensure that the drug that reaches a patient is safe, effective, and acceptable to the patient. Quality control is a critical function of a public pharmaceuticals supply business and vital to the successful development, manufacturing, and use of drugs. 

It emphasizes both the technical and managerial actions to ensure medicine quality. Every manufacturing firm mandatorily has a QC window that deals with medicine sampling, specifications, testing, and the organization’s release procedures. This ensures that materials are released for sale/supply/use only after their quality has been judged as satisfactory. The Drug and Therapeutics Committees (DTC) of individual healthcare organizations are responsible for the evaluation of new medicines before they are added to the formulary.

  1. Pharmaceutical Technologist (Pharmaceuticals & Fine Chemicals): Most drugs are conjugates meaning they are a combination of an active ingredient and inactive ones. The inactive ones do not increase or affect the therapeutic action of the active ingredient and are typically dyes, binding materials, preservatives, and flavoring agents. Both the active and inactive drug components are basically chemical compounds.

Manufacturers of fine chemicals or drug APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) are the major players in the innovative drugs and fine chemicals market today. Professionals working with such companies are majorly involved in production divisions or quality assurance wings or even R&D of drug design.

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmacogenomics & Genetics): Scientists in this field work towards the development of effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup. Genes affect a person’s response to drugs and this necessitates the study of pharmacology & genetics (pharmacogenomics to be more apt) as the current industry standard of “one size fits all” doesn’t work the same way for everyone.

It can be difficult to predict who will benefit from a medication, who will not respond at all, and who will experience negative side effects. Researchers practicing in this domain try to learn how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications. This field however is still in its infancy. Its use is currently quite limited, but new approaches are under study in clinical trials.

  1. Pharmaceutical Technologist (Pharmaceutical Biotechnology): This branch is closely tied to the biopharmaceuticals domain in which large biotechnology corporations operate to innovate and manufacture drugs based on human, animal, plant, fungal, or microbial sources. It is a relatively new and emerging field in which the principles of biotechnology are applied to gene therapy, the development of drugs as well as genetic testing.

Professionals in this field should be competent with hands-on training in recombinant DNA technology, basic molecular biology techniques, animal tissue culture, cell and molecular biology, drug discovery, fermentation, proteomics, diagnostic tests (ELISA), Western blot, nano-biotechnology, etc. For example, Eli Lilly’s Humulin, the first human insulin, targeted at diabetics, engineered through recombinant DNA technology, was invented in 1982 and approved by FDA (USA).

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Phytochemistry): The prefix Phyto refers to ‘plants’. Scientists practicing in this domain focus on the area of discovery and development of herbal drugs/phytopharmaceuticals of terrestrial, microbial, and marine origin, their quality control and analysis; understanding the synergy between components of a medicinal plant at a molecular level; production of drugs using plant tissue culture and fermentation technologies; studies on herbal cosmetics, medicinal plants, etc. as well as a screening of new drug molecules, standardized herbal drugs/extracts for their bioactivities, etc.
  2. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Nutraceuticals): Nutraceuticals Scientists are involved in studying “a food item or parts of food items that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease”. These may range from herbal products, isolated nutrients, and dietary supplements to processed products such as cereals and beverages.

These in general contain lipids, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, or other necessary nutrients and are marketed in concentrated forms as capsules, pills, powders/tinctures either as a single substance or as combination preparations.

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Clinical Pharmacy/Pharmacy Practice): This field mainly includes professionals working at hospitals/nursing homes/healthcare centers and similar patient care centers. Professionals in this field are experts in the therapeutic use of medicines or medications. They advise patients as well as other healthcare professionals about the best use of various medicines and drug delivery methods for the earliest recovery of a patient from a disease or ailment. They advise about the various side effects of medicines and suggest alternative medicines to do away with the side effects. They may also suggest alternative medicines to lower the cost of treatment.

They are often responsible for the clarification of the drug-related queries of patients and play a very critical role in counseling patients regarding drug therapies. They need to interpret physicians’ orders and thereby detect therapeutic incompatibilities or suggest similar drugs.

  1. Pharmaceutical Scientist (Pharmacy Administration, Economics & Outcomes Sciences): This is a vast field composed of different functional segments that deal with distinct organizational processes to add value to a drug supply business. Especially focused on the business expansion area, this field involves professionals who study/analyze/compute the various possibilities or metrics of a new drug or new molecular entity (NME) to succeed in a regional market.

This also deals with learning about the competition that a drug may or not face in the new market. They project such learnings before or during the launch of a new product or to assist in the R&D studies while a new drug is being designed.  It also involves deriving knowledge through various international medical conferences or science congresses where researchers present their findings and drug manufacturers follow these to produce their next innovation. This branch is a relatively new industry segment and is of exceptional importance owing to the advent of too many players in the healthcare industry.

  1. Pharmacovigilance Scientist: Pharmacovigilance Scientists are involved in pharmacovigilance activities which primarily focus on ensuring the safety of drug or medicine usage. They work to identify potential adverse effects from the usage of a drug or medicine; they evaluate the risks; they analyze the adverse effects and ways to prevent the effects. They are responsible for the safety of the drugs or medicines that the company produces and have to ensure that the drugs or medicines follow all the drug safety regulations of a country and also international regulations.

What does Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist do?

In all the fields of research work as mentioned above, except in Manufacturing, Quality Control, Bioinformatics, and Regulatory Affairs, you will have one or more of the following responsibilities:

  • Studying the causes of various diseases and researching new drugs and drug delivery systems.
  • Improvement of the efficiency of existing formulations and delivery systems.
  • Design and conduct R&D experiments for new drug and formulation development.
  • Documenting all the developments in experiments and research.
  • Collaborate with different researchers, academics, scientists, and research institutes to aid in the development of a drug.
  • Study journals and research materials of research being carried out in other companies and keep up to date with the developments.
  • Conducting experiments and analyzing results.
  • Writing papers and getting them published in pharmaceutical journals.
  • Provide analytical testing support at all stages of production.

In the Manufacturing function, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • You will be participating in or later supervising & managing the chain of activities/operations in a drug manufacturing plant engaged in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical formulations, ayurvedic/herbal preparations, synthetic hormones, nutraceuticals, or more.
  • You will be typically involved in following cGMP (current good manufacturing practices) in processing and production activities.
  • The environmental conditions, machine utilization records in the manufacturing area, and other records pertaining to the various stages of manufacturing must be verified and monitored.

In quality control work areas, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • Testing of all laboratory samples including raw materials, in-process, finished products, validation, stability, and environmental.
  • Recording of analytical results accurately.
  • Operation, maintenance, and calibration of laboratory instruments.
  • Review and interpretation of data for conformance to procedures, standards, and protocols and/or real-time recognition of aberrant data and results.
  • Assist in the improvement of quality systems by creating or revising worksheets and other lab documentation systems.
  • Comply with and implement safety standards.

In Bioinformatics, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • Create novel computational approaches and analytical tools as required by research goals.
  • Consult with researchers to analyze problems, recommend technology-based solutions, or determine computational strategies.
  • Analyze large molecular datasets such as genomic sequence data and proteomics data for clinical or basic research purposes.
  • Keep abreast of new biochemistries, instrumentation, or software by reading scientific literature and attending professional conferences.
  • Develop data models and databases.
  • Develop new software applications or customize existing applications to meet specific scientific project needs.
  • Design and apply bioinformatics algorithms including unsupervised and supervised machine learning, dynamic programming, or graphic algorithms.

In Regulatory Affairs, you will have the following responsibilities:

  • Coordinate, prepare, or review regulatory submissions for domestic or international projects.
  • Review product promotional materials, labeling, batch records, specification sheets, or test methods for compliance with applicable regulations and policies.
  • Maintain current knowledge base of existing and emerging regulations, standards, or guidance documents.
  • Interpret regulatory rules or rule changes and ensure that they are communicated through corporate policies and procedures.
  • Determine the types of regulatory submissions or internal documentation that are required in situations such as proposed device changes or labeling changes.
  • Coordinate efforts associated with the preparation of regulatory documents or submissions.

How to become a Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist – eligibility criteria

To get into this field, you will need to pass the Class 10 examination in all subjects as per the scheme of studies. Then you must complete Class 11-12 Physics, Chemistry, along with Mathematics, Biology & any other subject as per the scheme of studies.

Then you can do a degree in Pharmacy or in any one of the following fields. A Master’s degree or higher is preferred if you are interested in R&D or manufacturing roles. You can study for a Bachelor’s / Master’s / Doctoral degree in any of the following fields (Note that all these fields may not offer you a degree at all three levels, that is in Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral. Some fields may offer a degree only at the Master’s or at the Doctoral level):

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Chemical and Pharmaceuticals Technologies
  • Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (Engineering)
  • Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacy Administration, Economics & Outcomes Sciences
  • Pharmacy Practice
  • Pharmaceuticals & Fine Chemicals
  • Pharmaceutics & Pharmaceutical Engineering
  • Bhaishajya Kalpana (Pharmaceutics)
  • Dravya Guna (Pharmacology)
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Medical Pharmacology
  • Biopharmaceuticals Sciences & Technology
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry
  • Pharmacogenomics & Genetics
  • Pharmacognosy
  • Pharmacoinformatic
  • Pharmacology
  • Quality Assurance (Pharmaceuticals)

Educational Fees

The educational fees for becoming a pharmaceutical scientist or technologist in India can vary depending on the program, the institution, and the location. Here are some estimated costs:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy: The total cost of a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy can range from INR 2 lakhs to INR 6 lakhs (~$2,700 to $8,100 USD) for the entire program.
  2. Master’s degree in Pharmacy: The total cost of a 2-year Master’s degree in Pharmacy can range from INR 1 lakh to INR 4 lakhs (~$1,350 to $5,400 USD) for the entire program.
  3. Diploma/Certificate programs: There are also various diploma and certificate programs in pharmaceutical science and technology, which can range from INR 10,000 to INR 1 lakh (~$135 to $1,350 USD) depending on the program and institution.

It’s important to note that these are just rough estimates and the actual fees can vary. Additionally, some institutions may offer scholarships or financial aid to students based on merit or need.

Job Opportunities

Job opportunities could be across various functions of the pharmaceutical industry and research organizations. Following are the various opportunities:

  • After your Bachelor’s / Master’s degree, you may get an opportunity as a Manufacturing/ Production Executive/ Assistant Manager-Production/ in a similar role or you may get a role as a Quality Control Chemist/ Quality Assurance Chemist/ or a similar role with a pharmaceutical company in their manufacturing department. After your Master’s degree, you may also get offers for a role in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs function in a pharmaceutical company.
  • After your Bachelor’s degree, you may find a job with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) or a State Drug Control Organisation as an Assistant Drug Inspector / Research Assistant.
  • After your Master’s degree, you may get an opportunity as a Research Executive/ Research Associate/ in a similar role at the R&D (Research & Development) functions of various pharmaceutical companies (which are involved in drug development, manufacturing, and sale of medicines).
  • After your Master’s degree, you may get an opportunity in a pharmaceutical research organization as a Research Associate (this is a project-based appointment)/ Junior Scientist (this is a permanent appointment).
  • After your Master’s degree, you may get an opportunity in a pharmaceutical research organization or in a University as a Doctoral Fellow / Junior Research Fellow if they offer a Ph.D. program.
  • After your Master’s degree, you may an opportunity with a college/ University which offers courses in Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical Sciences/Technology. But for University positions, having a Ph.D. will be made mandatory soon.
  • After your Ph.D., you may get an opportunity in a pharmaceutical research organization or in a University as a Post-Doctoral Fellow.
  • After your Ph.D., you may get an opportunity as an Assistant Professor in a University which offer courses in Pharmacy/ Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • After your Ph.D. / or after your Ph.D. and experience as a Post-Doctoral Fellow, you may get a good opportunity in research and development with a pharmaceutical company or with a pharmaceutical research organization, or a university. In these opportunities, you will begin as a Scientist/ Assistant Professor.

Few of the pharmaceutical companies (which produce formulations or medicines that we take) where you may find opportunities:

Abbott Laboratories, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Glaxo SmithKline, Zydus Cadilla, Wockhardt, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Cipla, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratory, Lupin, SunPharmaceuticals, Cadilla Healthcare, Piramal Healthcare, Dabur, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Biocon, Aurobindo Pharma, IPCA, JubilantLifescience, Merck, Novartis, etc.

Few pharmaceutical companies which produce and market bulk drugs / API:

Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Sandoz, Mylan, Hikal, Shasun, Adani Pharma, Unilab, Surya Pharmaceuticals, Dishman Pharmaceuticals, HindustanAntibiotics, Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Apex Drugs, Eskay Fine Chemicals, Dhanuka Laboratories, Unimark Remedies, Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Indian Drug and Pharmaceuticals Ltd., etc.

Few pharmaceutical companies which produce OTC (Over-The-Counter drugs):

Himalaya Drugs, P & G, Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, Dabur, Zydus Cadilla, Dishman

Pharma; Unichem Lab; Emami, TTK Healthcare, Zandu Pharma; many other

formulation companies listed above also produce OTC drugs.

Few research institutions where you may find jobs:

  • National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER)
  • Central Drugs Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow
  • Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow
  • Indian Institute of Toxicological Research (IITR), Lucknow,
  • Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu,
  • Institute of Integrative and Genomic Biology (IIGB), Delhi
  • Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad
  • Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad
  • Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata
  • North East Institute of Science and Technology(NEIST), Jorhat
  • National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi
  • National Institute of PlantGenome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi
  • National Institute of Malaria Research (NIMR), Delhi, National Institute of Pathology (NIOP), Delhi
  • National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata
  • National Institute of Immunohaematology (NIIH), Mumba

Salary of Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist

After your Bachelor’s degree, at entry-level jobs as a Trainee or Intern, you may expect to make about Rs. 25,000 – 50,000 or even more a month. Higher salaries are paid to graduates from premier institutions.

At the junior level jobs, you may expect to get about Rs. 50,000 – 1,00,000 or even more per month.

In mid-level jobs in India, (with 5-12 years of experience) may vary from Rs. 60,000 – 2,00,000 per month or even more.

At the senior level (with 12-20 years of experience), you may earn about Rs. 1,00,000 – 8,00,000 or even more a month. Chief Scientific Officers may earn about Rs. 50,00,000 to 3,00,00,000 or much more per year.

Global (US)

At Entry level as an Intern or Trainee, you may earn about $4,000 – $7,000 per month.

At Junior-level, with an experience of 1-5 years, you may earn around $5,000 – $9,500 or more per month.

At Mid-level, with an experience of 6-12 years, you may earn around $6,500 – $10,500 per month.

At Senior-level, with an experience of 13-20 + years, you may earn around $ 8,500 – $12, 000 per month.

Career progression in Pharmaceutical Scientist/Technologist profession

From entry-level positions such as Assistant / Executive / Officer / Associate / Scientist / Technologist / Analyst etc., you may grow through various roles like Senior Scientist / Principal Scientist; Manager / Outpatient Pharmacy Manager; Senior Manager; Plant Head / Production Manager; General Manager; Division Head / Cluster Head / R&D Head; Global CI Manager; Head-BD & Marketing; Vice President (Plant Operations) / VP-Formulation Development; Chief Scientific Officer / Chief Operating Officer / Chief Health Officer and so on.

Remember, your growth, as well as your designations, will only depend on the functional division that you are associated with, so as mentioned here, if you are working in the R&D department you can be promoted to the position of Senior Scientist, Principal Scientist, etc. or if you are in the Production & Processing division you can be promoted to Plant Head, Production Manager eventually in say not less than a decade and you can rise upwards from there.

You can expect a decent future in this field as the industry growth prospects are encouraging. The pharmaceutical industry is oriented toward extremely high-quality research that leads to new treatments for people in need. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is a prominent industry in terms of production, consumption, and exports of pharmaceutical products. By 2025, medicine spending in India is expected to grow by almost 9 to 12% making India one of the world’s top ten in this zone. India’s pharmaceutical industry is projected to expand at a rate of 22.4% compounded annually. This should take the projected turnover to the mark of 55 billion US Dollars by 2020 in terms of pharmaceutical production.

Exports of pharmaceutical products from India are projected to grow at 7.98% compounded annually, in value terms, during 2015-2020. The Indian government is also preparing for a huge multi-billion dollar investment with 50 percent public funding through its public-private partnership (PPP) model, in order to enhance India’s innovation capability. The aim is to push India into the top 5 pharmaceutical innovation hubs by 2020 and to establish a global presence by launching 1 out of every 5-10 drugs discovered in India at the global level by 2020.

By 2020, India should be the 6th largest market globally in terms of absolute size. Presently, the industry is expanding at a healthy rate of 9-10% year-on-year. Various multinational companies like Novartis, Merck Sharp & Dohme are launching patent-protected drugs in India at price points lower by almost 20% than those in developed markets.

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