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Over 200,000 people work in the pharmaceutical industry in the UK. Many are scientists, mainly chemists, biologists and pharmacists, others are engineers or manufacturing operatives, or may have qualifications in IT, finance, law, marketing or other specialisms.

It takes about 12 years for a new medicine to go through the tests that are required before it can be prescribed by doctors. During this time hundreds of different people are involved, and the medicine passes through a large number of tests. These are designed to check that the medicine will work in the disease it is intended for; and that it will be safe for people to take.

Most people know what a doctor does, or a nurse, dentist or vet. But many people are not sure what a research chemist, pharmacologist, health economist or drug safety officer does. Young people who enjoy studying science are likely to find it useful to know about all the alternative subjects they could study, and the careers they lead to.

Three young scientists are working with chemicals inside a chemical fume hood

Why work in pharmaceuticals?

The UK pharmaceutical industry has a dynamic working environment with the challenges, opportunities and incentives that you'd expect from one of the UK's biggest industries.

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Three young scientists are seen working on a number of vials in the lab

Wide choice of job roles

Read over a hundred case studies covering just a fraction of the range of jobs in the industry.

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