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How to Recruit Winning Clinical Staff

Emplyment in the pharma industry Posted on: 11 Oct 02
How to Recruit Winning Clinical Staff

Summary

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most highly R&D-intensive industries, more so than the electronics, communications, and aerospace industries. The industry faces a continuing challenge in emp
A high performance industry
US pharmaceutical companies are the leading companies in the global pharmaceutical industry and this is expected to continue in the future 1. The ability to invest substantially in R&D is critical to a company’s future growth potential. With the advantage of having the lion’s share of the best-selling products, US companies are in a better position to spend more on R&D than their European and Japanese rivals.

In 2001, the US pharmaceutical industry invested more than $30 billion in 2001 in discovering and developing new medicines 2. This high level of R&D investment has resulted in a high level of productivity. The US pharmaceutical industry has generated more novel drug substances than its European and Japanese counterparts in each of five year periods since 1965 1,3. It has been suggested that by the end of 2002, twenty of the world’s best-selling drugs will be marketed by US companies 1.

A major national employer

The US pharmaceutical industry makes a significant contribution to the national economy. Healthcare accounts for around 13 percent of the nation’s economic output and will increase by 26 percent by 2010 2. Furthermore, the sector is a major contributor in terms of new jobs. In 2000, the industry directly employed 247,000 people, with 51,588 of these working in R&D 2. On average, job employment within the pharmaceutical sector is growing at around 4.5 percent pa2.

It is also notable that the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for the creation of many other jobs indirectly, both upstream and downstream from R&D. Sectors such as packaging, wholesaleing and retailing are highly dependent on the performance of the industry 4. Furthermore, through collaborative research projects, the pharmaceutical industry is an important source of finance for researchers in hospitals and universities.

Employment in the industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most R&D-intensive industries in the world, more so than the electronics, communications, and aerospace industries 2. The industry faces a continuing challenge in employing the right kind of people, as market leadership depends not only on highly specialised skills but also on experience.
The US industry association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) tracks employment by degree of education on a regular basis. It found that between 1994 and 1997, 67 percent of the pharmaceutical industry employees had BS/MS degrees, and 29 percent had PhD degrees. One of the trends that was noted during this employment survey was that an increasing number of personnel were involved in clinical evaluation (Phase I to Phase IV). This has continued to the present day, with around 26% of R&D personnel in 2000 involved in Phase I to Phase IV work 2. This is in line with findings that the proportion of R&D expenditure allocated to clinical studies has been steadily increasing 2. In 2000, clinical evaluation accounted for 34% of total domestic R&D functions 2.
Although degree-level scientific staff are desirable for the industry, certain areas, such as regulatory affairs, are highly industry-specific skill areas with there being no clear higher education background discipline as a source of such recruits 4. In addition, pharmaceutical companies have realised that there is no substitute for industry experience. There is also an increasing emphasis on so-called “soft-skills” such as effective communication and good writing skills.

Providing the pharma industry with the right people

The CRO industry has recognised the difficulty that companies have had in recruiting sufficient staff with appropriate skills. To help assist clients in this area, several staffing agencies provide pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with contract personnel on demand. However, most of these agencies do not offer the advantage of understanding clinical research contractor needs. This is where full-service Clinical Research Organizations are relied upon in assisting big pharmas with their studies. They do so by providing employees who are skilled in a variety of job functions, and who can benefit client organizations by reducing labor costs, meeting project deadlines, and responding to staffing need fluctuations. An example of this is Chiltern International’s Contract Personnel Department (CPD), which was recently expanded to cover clinical staffing needs in the United States. Because Chiltern is a CRO and not a staffing agency, CPD provides pharmaceutical companies with extensive experience managing and monitoring clinical research trials. Positions include, but are not limited to, Clinical Research Associates, Project Managers, Regulatory Affairs Personnel, Registered Nurses, Data Managers, Statisticians, SAS Programmers, Study Site Coordinators, Physicians Assistances, and Medical Writers. When assisting with permanent placement, full service CROs also represent a hiring source by handling all advertising, recruiting, screening, customized interviewing and reference inquiries.

For further information on Chiltern’s Contract Personnel Department please contact:

Linda White (linda.white@chiltern.com)

References

  1. Kermani F and Findlay G (2000). The Pharmaceutical R&D Compendium. http://www.cmr.org

  2. Industry Profile 2002. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). http://www.phrma.org

  3. Trumball J. G. (2000). Institutions and Industrial Performance: The Pharmaceutical Sector in France, Germany, Britain and the US. MIT IPC Working Paper 00-0002. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Industrial Performance Center. http://web.mit.edu/ipc/www/pubwp.html

  4. Pharmaceutical industry measures skills for a competitive future (2000). The Institute for Employment Studies. http://www.employment-studies.co.uk

Dr Faiz Kermani

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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