Up to date, accurate and strategic information on medicines is vitally important for the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare professionals and patients.
Working in Medical Information
People who work in medical information provide evaluated, balanced information and advice on all clinical aspects of medicines to doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. To do this, they use:
- Reference text books
- Medical and pharmaceutical journals
- Research papers (including clinical trials, systematic reviews)
- Guidelines produced by expert bodies.
Some people working in medical information provide information in response to a specific question asked by a healthcare professional. The question is researched and the relevant sources collated, to answer the enquiry in a fair and balanced way. The findings are summarised and relevant highlights are presented to the healthcare professional. This could be in a face-to-face meeting, or more typically, via email or phone.
Those working in medical information within a pharmaceutical company provide information to other people within their company, such as medical, marketing, sales or NHS liaison staff. As well as the above sources, they will also use confidential company data to provide the information and advice.
They are often responsible for checking advertising and promotional material against the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry. They may also be involved in monitoring drug safety and reporting suspected adverse reactions to company products to the regulatory authorities.
Required skills and qualifications
There are some key competency areas, which are important for Medical Information professionals. These include:
- Information management skills (IT, research, knowledge of sources)
- Relevant scientific knowledge, as well as an understanding of relevant legal and related issues (ABPI Code of Practice)
- Analytical, communication/teamwork and problem solving skills.
In addition to these competencies, you are likely to require a degree, usually in pharmacy or a relevant science course, or experience in a clinical setting or as a medical professional.
A role in medical information within the pharmaceutical industry will provide you with a range of training and development opportunities during your career. This will lead to natural career progression within your company, or provide you with the relevant experience to work in a range of related jobs within the industry.
You may move from the position of an information officer to an information manager, moving upwards into other managerial areas. You may be able to specialise in a particular area, and this may help with promotion, but it is likely that you will need to move between jobs for this.
Typical starting salaries are generally between £18,000 and £23,000, with this increasing to up to around £28,000 for newly qualified staff with up to 2 years' experience. Chartered/senior level professionals can expect salaries up to £45,000.
For a real insight into this area of the industry, take a look at this case study of a Medical Information Scientist.