What does a B pharmacist do

Pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry

The public profile of the pharmacist is defined by the pharmacist, i.e. H. the pharmacists working in the public pharmacy. The other career opportunities, e.g. B. in the hospital pharmacy, in administration, in the armed forces, at vocational schools and schools for pharmaceutical-technical assistants and last but not least the great opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry are more or less non-existent in the public consciousness. In addition, the pharmacist's profession is increasingly developing into a woman's profession. At the University of Tübingen, for example, 77% of the graduates were women over the past five years. The men are already to be regarded as a minority worthy of protection. If you meet five men in an internship group of ten people out of 40 students per semester and are happy about it, the answer to the corresponding question is: “We are the only men in the semester”.

To avoid any misunderstanding: It is good and right for many women to take up the pharmacy profession, as working in the public pharmacy enables both full and part-time employment, which can be varied depending on family needs. In addition, z. For example, in the state of Baden-Württemberg more than 50% of pharmacy owners are older than 55 years, so that there is also a great need for pharmacists in the pharmacy sector in the near future. However, it is easy to forget that there is a great need in the pharmaceutical industry for young pharmacists, especially for graduates with a doctorate.

As with other natural science courses, the pharmacy course is divided into a basic course of two years and a main course of two years. The normal student takes the second state examination after eight to nine semesters and receives a license to practice pharmacy after a year of practical work. A further specialization is possible through the three to four year doctorate in one of the core subjects of pharmaceutical-medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutical biology, pharmaceutical technology, which was formerly known as galenics, and more recently in the field of clinical pharmacy. The career opportunities for pharmacists with a doctorate must currently be described as excellent. Particularly in the field of pharmaceutical technology, it would easily be possible to easily accommodate three times the number of graduates in the pharmaceutical industry. The fields of work that are offered to the graduate in industry are diverse. While chemical synthesis is mostly reserved for chemists, pharmacists can already be used in biotechnological processes. If a new drug comes from natural resources, isolating natural substances, adjusting the new drug to certain active ingredient contents from the plant and developing a drug from this source of raw materials is already the domain of pharmacists.

At the beginning of every drug development there is a defined chemical substance, an active ingredient obtained from a biotechnological process or an extract from a natural, mostly plant-based source. The first task is the analytical characterization of this raw material, the description of its properties and the study of its shelf life. After that, extensive pharmacological-toxicological investigations begin as well as the description of the path of the substance in the body, which is carried out first with animal models and later on humans. A dosage form is required at the latest when it is applied to humans, i. H. the active ingredient must be packaged in an application form. These can be a wide variety of dosage forms such as tablets, capsules, dragees, solutions, injections, eye drops, ointments, creams, gels, inhalation preparations and new forms of application such as transdermal systems, nanocapsules and liposomes.

The development of such dosage forms is the domain of industrial pharmacists. This “pharmaceutical” development is followed by clinical testing, which, although dominated by medical professionals, is also increasingly becoming an area of ​​activity for industrial pharmacists. While small quantities of a drug often have to be manufactured in the development phase, an industrial scale is required for subsequent production. The transfer attempts necessary for this, which are referred to as up-scaling, are already subject to the provisions of the Medicines Act, since they are mostly used for further clinical trials, according to which production takes place under the supervision and guidance of a production manager who is generally qualified as a pharmacist got to. This increase in scale leads directly to the later production of the drug, which in turn takes place under the control of a pharmacist. In addition to these development and manufacturing activities, pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry have other interesting opportunities in the area of ​​quality control. The release of a drug after it has been analytically checked must be carried out by the “control manager” defined in more detail in the Drugs Act, who is usually a pharmacist. Before production and quality control can take place, a drug must go through the approval process. The approval of drugs is now a complicated process, which has become even more important with the creation of the European approval authority in London. The approval departments of pharmaceutical manufacturers have grown enormously in importance over the past twenty years. Since a drug is not developed for just one country today, contacts with the authorities in the most varied of countries are necessary, which opens up an interesting field of work. Every new drug must be made known to the doctor. The medical-scientific information, d. H. Working out and compiling data, processing it and converting it into a form that appeals to the doctor is just as important in the modern communication society as collecting reports on incidents and side effects and developing new areas of indication for a drug that is already on the market. The fields of work are so numerous that there is something for everyone, regardless of whether they feel more connected to the medical, technical or analytical side.

The author, who himself spent twelve years in the pharmaceutical industry before returning to university, can say from his own experience that every day brings new surprises and challenges. Working in industry also requires a high level of commitment, willingness to communicate and a knack for the subordinate employees. If all of this is correct and the technical competence is available, working in this branch of industry is a fascinating opportunity to make your own professional life interesting. Of the approx. 50 doctoral students of the author, only approx. 10% ended up in the public pharmacy, the majority is active in a wide variety of areas of the pharmaceutical industry. The figures show that the pharmacist obviously finds a satisfactory job description in the pharmaceutical industry. Surprisingly, however, the young talent situation is critical. The pharmaceutical industry is struggling to find well-trained pharmacists. A final example should clarify this. A young man who completed part of his practical training in an industrial company after his pharmaceutical state examination then returned to the chair for a doctorate. As mentioned above, the normal duration of the doctorate is around three to four, normally three to three and a half years. After only one and a half years, the head of the company called to ask when the young man would finally finish, because they really wanted him back. An exact date for completing the doctorate was not given at this point in time. An employment contract was therefore signed that provided for a margin for entry into the company. Then, when a machine failed in the course of his work, the graduate ran into considerable time problems.

However, he managed to complete the work on schedule and take up his duties. All sides were satisfied. The example shows how much industry recruits for young graduates today. Those who do their doctorate properly and within a reasonable period of time, are willing to work and are sociable, flexible enough to work abroad at least temporarily, have great opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry today.


Prof. Dr. P.C. Schmidt
Phone: 07071 2972462
Fax: 07071 295952

Edition 30/2002, pharmaceutical newspaper