Medicine is a commodity we all share so it’s no surprise that the pharmaceutical industry isn’t slowing down any time soon. Pharmaceutical research, manufacture and sales contribute a sizeable portion to the UK economy – it’s measured on the same plateau as electrical equipment, chemicals, and computer innovation as one of our key home-grown sectors. Greater export figures have also been reported over the last half-decade, with the ABPI pinpointing a sum of £2.8 billion in 2013. The pharmaceutical sector is therefore enjoying a strong economic outlook, mirroring its increasing importance in our lives. So who are the big pharmaceutical companies driving this growth?
How graduate employers differ from other sectors
Pharmaceutical graduate jobs represent a structured learning programme, allowing you to ease into this multi-faceted sector. Top pharmaceutical companies are always searching for excellent candidates, so gateways into the sector are fairly inclusive. Many employers offer a year’s work experience, sandwiched between your academic studies.
Firms will generally be on the hunt for candidates with two basic skills: maths and science. If you’re pursuing a degree in either of these subjects, you can be fairly confident that a pharmaceutical application will be seriously considered if you earn a solid grade. Summer internships are also popular amongst students nearing the end of their degree.
Types of organisations
Since the industry covers four distinct areas – research, manufacture, marketing and distribution – there are plenty of public and private organisations collaborating to get medicine market-ready.
You might want to be part of a team of scientists searching for a medicinal breakthrough. If this is the case, then research giants like Pfizer or Actelion are the names to go for.
Conversely, you may just want to help patients get their medicine over the counter; Boots, Superdrug, and NHS-backed pharmacies will be happy to receive your support. Or you could sway towards making the drugs themselves, which would land you in the sights of GlaxoSmithKline, or another company focused on the production line.
Anyone with a penchant for philanthropy, innovative thinking, and scientific enquiry will flourish in a pharmaceutical role.
Top pharmaceutical companies to watch out for
As the range of job prospects materialises in front of you, consider applying to any of these big names after you’ve decided on the specific route you’re going down:
AstraZeneca: A colossal research firm, currently exploring anti-infective drugs in their new R&D HQ in Cambridge.
GSK (GlaxoSmithKline): A multinational, science-led healthcare company, providing everything from pharmaceuticals to vaccines. Focusing on global health, it’s the perfect company for those who want to make a difference in the lives of millions.
Johnson & Johnson: One of the biggest names in health and pharmaceuticals. The Johnson & Johnson family of companies has over 120 years of experience, with a focus on business morality that is the key to their continued success.
Merck & Co.: Another huge operational beast, featuring positions as diverse as global procurement and supply chain managers.
Novartis: A worldwide manufacturer requiring scientists, quality assurance managers, and co-ordinated admin staff.
Pfizer: Working to improve the lives of people all over the world through service and science, Pfizer offers opportunities to make a difference in a diverse range of departments, all focused on helping to create world-changing products.
Roche: The apparent “UK leader in diagnostics solutions”, encompassing the marketing and promotion of pharmaceutical research products.
Superdrug: Based in almost every town and city across the nation, this pharmacy chain has plenty of management and service roles for grads who like being on the ground level.
5 things to know before applying
- Pharmaceutical trade contributions were officially the sixth greatest in any major industrial sector in 2014.
- Only 1 in every 5,000 products is approved for safe use.
- Estimations of what it costs to see a single drug through from conception to the pharmacy shelf sit around £400 million.
- Mental health treatment is gaining traction – almost £1 billion will be spent on it by 2020.
- The UK Clinical Research Collaboration, set up in 2004, does amazing work to attract investment and clinical research grants.
The final picture
Choosing a path in the pharmacy business doesn’t necessitate being a complete genius. Top pharmaceutical companies have all sorts of roles contributing to a smooth operation.
With a wide variety of skillsets value within the pharmaceutical industry, there are a plethora of opportunities to choose from. View our available opportunities and take the next step towards securing a role in the pharmaceutical sector.