This is a knowledge driven industry, requiring a highly skilled workforce and directly employs over 73,000 people, with over 23,000 of these in research and development. The pharmaceutical industry also indirectly generates at least 200,000 more jobs making it a substantial employer in the UK, and these figures have stayed relatively stable over recent years. As employees in the pharmaceutical industry add more per head to the UK economy than any other sector, employment in the industry is highly valued.
Increasingly, pharmaceutical companies are investing in research and development, with a trend towards investment in collaborative research with academia. Some pharmaceutical companies even sponsor PhDs in academic institutions to help make this connection, with the hope of finding joint solutions to joint healthcare problems. With this shift in focus towards collaborative research and development there has been a decrease in sales and marketing activity in recent years.
Few companies carry out all of the different functions needed to take a medicine from basic concept to market; instead, functions are often outsourced to specialists such as contract research organisations (CROs), marketing companies or legal firms. There are also a number of stakeholders who have an interest in the industry, such as healthcare providers, research councils and regulators. The pharmaceutical industry also has a strong partnership with government, with the work of the ABPI ensuring that the NHS is offered a fair price for the medicines on offer.
The discovery, development, manufacturing and promotion of new medicines is therefore a team effort combining the talents of many individuals. This means that there are a wide range of jobs available directly within, or relating to, the pharmaceutical industry.
Source: ONS Business Enterprise Research and Development, UK: 2016
To explore the range of jobs in the industry visit Working in the industry.
Advice on finding jobs in the industry and different entry levels can be found under Getting into the industry.
For a list of potential employers visit Pharmaceutical Recruiters.
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.
Some people have reservations about working in the pharmaceutical industry on ethical grounds. However, without the work of the pharmaceutical industry we wouldn’t have the diverse range of life-saving medicines available to us today.