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Feature

QP or not QP – a career worth considering

Posted on: 15 Nov 02
QP or not QP – a career worth considering

Summary

Demand for QPs has increased dramatically in the last 10-15 years as a result of an aging demographic in this role.
The Pharmaceutical industry houses an incredibly broad church of roles that the general public neither see nor appreciate. In fact, even those within the pharmaceutical industry can fail to appreciate the enormous number of specialisations that work together to take an NCE all the way into a doctor’s waiting room. Perhaps it is the nature of highly specialised roles to always be in high demand, or perhaps it is the responsibility that goes with certain positions that make them less attractive.

Whatever the reason, we at PharmiWeb often see outstanding opportunities advertised month in month out on the site as ethical drug companies and recruiters fight over a dwindling pool of suitably qualified candidates.

In order to attempt to highlight these shortages, over the next year we will be running a series of articles lifting the lid on some of the roles which many of you will never have heard of and yet are vital to the running of a successful pharma business. Hopefully this will inspire and encourage some of our readers to consider refocusing their careers and will reinforce to those already in these roles just how valuable their work is.

We begin with the QP role, part of the Quality Assurance function and a pre-requisite for any pharma company of whatever size. A QP is a legal requirement and has an enormous degree of responsibility. It falls to them to sign off the batch record on a completed batch of drugs, making them legally responsible for the quality of the drugs being released into the market place. The QP not only has this legal onus upon them but also has to tread a delicate balancing act between the commercial interests of a company and the high standards of quality demanded by the regulators.

Looking beyond the billions of blister packed pills that are the stuff of every accompanying photo to a pharma industry article, many of the drugs that treat rare diseases contain ingredients worth tens of thousands of pounds. In these circumstances the commercial pressure on a QP to approve completed batches is enormous, with the potential wastage of substantial amounts of incredibly expensive compounds depending on their discretion. The role demands an understanding of both the commercial, scientific and ethical aspects of drug production and therefore places QPs in an excellent position to have a fully rounded appreciation of the industry as well as the individual business as a whole. With regulations seemingly becoming increasingly stringent, the responsibility and rewards for QPs look set to continue to grow.

Demand for QPs has increased dramatically in the last 10-15 years as a result of an aging demographic in this role. Whereas a starting salary ten years ago might have been equivalent to around £22,000 pa, a QP starting today could easily command a salary in the vicinity of £40,000. For those progressing into senior QA management roles who retain their QP expertise, this figure could rise to between £70-80,000, a clear indication of the potential that now surrounds the role.

So how do you become a QP and what are the options available to those with experience? You will often be a graduate who starts out in the QA department and for the most part will stay within it while you gain experience and responsibility. It is highly unlikely in the future that any senior QA member of staff will not have spent time in the QP role. Another route through to becoming a QP, although less common, is following a degree and experience in pharmacy. From this point most qualify after a four year course, usually sponsored by their employer, although increasingly QA staff are realising the enormous benefits of becoming a QP and paying for this themselves. This represents a substantial investment in your own future, as through leading training organisations like David Begg Associates, RSSL and Brighton University, it can cost up to £10,000 pa for the course and associated costs. Like so many things, the decision is a question of balance and making an investment of time and effort now could secure you a highly sought after qualification and guarantee you a career for life.

The QP role offers enormous potential for many reasons - specialisation, industry awareness, remuneration and career advancement. It is a key role with huge responsibility both to the company and the patient and will become increasingly vital in any kind of career advancement within QA. In fact if you’re looking to specialise, and for an exciting challenge, then a QP position might well be for you.

View QP jobs on PharmiWeb by clicking here

Jeff Webb - PIR Group

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

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