Transcript of "A day in the life of a pharmaceutical physician"
LIfe AWAy fROm The NhSA day in the life of a pharmaceutical physicianImran Shafi Kausar, medical adviser at pfizer, says what he and colleagues get up toImran Kausar: medical adviser as it progresses through development. We European Medicines Agency, or perhaps look“ I often check my diary the night before toremind myself of the next day’s meetings.It can be quite normal to have a morning also design and contribute to the running of clinical trials to (i) help understand disease processes and thus help to guide future at the papers going to the next Commission for Human Medicines meeting. There may also be a need to talk to others in the mainmeeting with marketing colleagues and then drug discovery, and (ii) develop and validate Department of Health over medicine supplymove onto discussing how to plan the next disease biomarkers to assist with diagnosis issues, or perhaps discuss a new policymulticentre clinical trial on a teleconference and demonstration of relevant clinical effects development. Sometimes the press officewith colleagues in Paris and New York. I will in small exploratory trials. will call, wanting a response to a questionoften meet with other company scientists When I started as a clinical research posed by a journalist. During the day I mayand physicians to discuss regulatory issues physician, I worked on a single drug need to speak to my European counterpartsaffecting our work. In the afternoon I may development project but have taken on about a new procedure, or a new applicationattend a meeting with NICE [National Institute progressively more over the years. I now we are assessing, or provide some advicefor Health and Clinical Excellence] to discuss head the clinical research and development to someone who wants to develop a newhealth technology assessments and then group supporting a therapeutic area medicine and isn’t sure how to access thetake time to respond to calls or emails fromphysicians who have asked about specificmatters relating to a drug or its side effects. (genitourinary—which includes urology, gynaecology, nephrology, and sexual health). This allows me to cover a broad regulatory processes. ” Kate Lloyd: medical directorIt is quite normal to travel to participate inadvisory boards with consultants to discussthe future of a disease area or the life cycle of range of projects. I also have the opportunity to review data on drugs developed outside Pfizer as we seek to collaborate with other “ I left clinical medicine in 1983 with little idea of what was involved in pharmaceutical medicine. I wondered if it would bea product. Often meetings take place abroad companies. This facilitates sharing of interesting and whether it would be busyand conferences can provide a valuable resources and expertise, enhancing the enough to fulfil me.venue to meet and learn with people at the development of individual drugs. It certainly is busy. On a typical day asforefront of medical research. I may attend an I am pleased that I continue to find my job medical director of Pfizer in the UK I get to theevening meeting of market research with a challenging, intellectually stimulating, and office about 7 am and spend the first hourgroup of general practitioners to gauge their rewarding and feel privileged to contribute to checking and responding to emails. By 8views on a new drug. Each day provides newlearning experiences in an effort to improve the development of new medicines. ” am, meetings are beginning with individual colleagues or medical department teamspatient care. ”Ian mills: clinical research physician Ian hudson: regulatory physician “ I left full time clinical medicine in 1988, and then, after spending 18 months as including clinical research, regulatory affairs, drug safety, medical information, and medical and scientific affairs. The“ During medical student and clinicaltraining, I thrived in research environmentsand found clinical and basic science research a research fellow, spent 11 years in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the Medicines Control Agency, now the topics of the day will vary but include commercial issues about the UK market, the management of submissions to NICE or theinvigorating and rewarding. As a specialist Medicines and Healthcare Products Scottish Medicines Consortium on a productregistrar I gravitated towards posts in Regulatory Agency (MHRA) six years ago. or a need to contact the regulatory agency.academic units but found the limited time I don’t think I’ve had a typical day since. We work closely with MHRA and the Irishand resources to engage in meaningful I start the week with a meeting with my Medicines Board on a number of topics, withresearch frustrating. I also became aware team to discuss hot topics and the week a specific focus on good, timely reporting ofthat much ground-breaking research was ahead. I may then have a meeting with a adverse events.performed within the drug industry and, company concerning an ongoing application, Other interactions with regulators includeas I investigated further, found myself or providing scientific advice on their registration of new medicines; renewal orincreasingly attracted to a career in clinical development plans. There will usually be variation of product labelling; emergenceresearch and development. Six years ago I some internal MHRA issues to deal with, then of new clinical data from trials or adversejoined Pfizer as a clinical research physician. perhaps I look at some European centralised events, either from trials or spontaneous Clinical research physicians get involved applications and ensure the United Kingdom reporting; pre-vetting of promotionalin all phases of drug development, providing has either assessed or reviewed and materials for launch medicines or whereclinical input to the overall strategy, commented on another member state’s there has been a significant change todesigning and running the clinical trials in assessment. Then there might be a meeting the label, usually relating to safety; andcollaboration with worldwide investigators, with an industry trade association or perhaps investigation of possible counterfeit versionsresponding to and investigating emerging a discussion on a new regulation covering of our medicines.safety and efficacy signals, and meeting with some novel technology, or a new procedure When counterfeit versions of ourregulatory agencies, external academics, and the agency is putting in place. I may then medicines are suspected we need toclinical experts to discuss our understanding start to prepare for the next Committee for assess the level of risk to patients and toof a drug’s profile and future clinical trials Human Medicinal Products meeting at the work closely with MHRA to take the most BMJ CAREERS | 7 JULY 2007
appropriate action, often a recall of a batch decision. I spoke to a lot of people, did a lot strategies, publication and presentation ofof our medicine, as counterfeiters sometimes of research; I considered my options carefully data in relation to that drug, class of drugs,use an existing company batch number and and in the end pharmaceutical medicine or therapy area. It also includes being theapply it to their fake products. There is a risk seemed to be the best fit—it allowed me medical liaison for communications withof major confusion for patients if this does to maintain my medical expertise and to external parties, including the medicaltake place. Part of these action plans will develop it in a new arena. profession and the media.usually include briefing the media. My first position in industry was as a UK The only constant is that there’s no such Often the day ends with an external regional medical adviser, which I did for thing as a typical day. I generally get to themeeting, for example, attending the Royal about six months before being promoted to office early in the morning, answer overnightCollege of Physicians’ teach in once a month, therapy area medical adviser for the UK and emails and voicemails and the rest of the daywhich Pfizer has sponsored for the past four Ireland. After three years I was promoted to is spent juggling meetings, teleconferences,years, allowing me to keep up to date with global medical director based in our New York emails, and phone calls with colleaguesclinical topics. ”Anil Jina: global brand medical director headquarters where I’ve been working since. My role is to be the company’s global medical expert for a particular drug, class around the world. An astute awareness of time zones is important and there is a lot of travel involved, for meetings and“ I left clinical medicine in 2001 after sixyears in various rotations (predominantlyanaesthesia) for a variety of reasons, both of drugs, or therapy area. This includes medical oversight of and input into global regulatory activities, drug safety issues, conferences. My time in the pharmaceutical industry has been enjoyable and challenging and haspersonal and professional. It was not an easy clinical trials, lifecycle strategies, marketing enabled me to develop new skills and shape health care in a different manner to normal clinical work. I look forward to experiencing what the future holds. In summary ” Pharmaceutical medicine can provide dynamic and challenging careers for doctors who feel that their medical skills extend beyond patient encounters. Commercial acumen, management and leadership skills, and an ability to communicate effectively are all hallmarks of successful doctors in this industry. Our work influences many aspects of the medical profession and represents society’s best hope for the development of innovations and new medicines for future health care. Imran Shafi Kausa, medical adviser, Pfizer Imran.Kausar@pfizer.com fURTheR INfORmATION Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (www.fpm.org.uk) Two years as SHO in recognised posts required to apply for higher medical training; four years of higher medical training leading to certificate of specialist training in pharmaceutical medicine upon completion of the diploma in pharmaceutical medicine Recruitment • any pharma recruitment consultancies M available • ritish Association of Pharmaceutical B Physicians (www.brapp.org) • dverts commonly placed in the BMJ A Association of the British Pharmaceutical plainpiCture/deepol Industry (ABPI) publication An Insight into Careers for Doctors with the British Pharmaceutical Industry is available at www.abpi.org.ukBMJ CAREERS | 7 JULY 2007