Research and development is critical in all industries. And, when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry R & D not only generates income for the companies involved in the research but it often results in lives being saved, or at least in the quality of patient’s lives being improved.
It can take many years, as well as millions of pounds to perfect and test a pharmaceutical product. In 2006 alone almost £4billion was spent on pharmaceutical research and development. Once developed, years of testing follow to ensure that any new drug or medicine adheres to the appropriate government guidelines before being released to the general public. During that period of development it can be a perplexing time for research scientists as they strive to find the perfect solution, for example to a life-threatening illness or a debilitating disease.
Indeed, it is that period of intense research, development and ultimately testing that makes branded drugs so initially expensive. For a number of years they are under patent to the pharmaceutical company that developed them and that exclusive reward for innovation is one of the reasons that drugs are developed in the first place. So, production of a ground-breaking drug not only helps humanity but can be extremely lucrative for the company responsible for developing it; either exclusive distribution or production under licence allows pharmaceutical companies to recoup their R &D costs, as well as add to their bottom line.
Because of the potential rewards available, anyone involved in the medical or pharmaceutical fields of research at the top level will have worked hard to get there. Research scientists are often enrolled on extensive post-graduate courses in order to expand their knowledge and learning by companies anxious to attract the best recruits.
But getting into the industry doesn’t have to be through the research scientist route. There are many pharmaceutical jobs that aren’t involved in front-line research such as marketing, accounting, engineering and IT. In recent times, according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the pharmaceutical industry in the UK employs over 68,000 people and many are not directly involved in research.
However, despite the promise of potentially vast financial rewards many of those involved in the industry chose to go into pharmaceutical research for altruistic reasons, whether directly involved in research or not. Such noble reasons for entering the industry include the opportunity to help develop vaccines, medicines and cures in order to reduce the number of life-threatening and debilitating illnesses in both humans and animals. Indeed, for the many employees in the pharmaceutical industry, the best reward for their years of hard work and dedication is the chance to improve people’s lives.