The opportunities to work with leading edge equipment in state-of-the-art automated plants are immense and increasing all the time.
There are two distinct main areas: Primary (or Bulk) Pharmaceutical Manufacture concerns the chemical substance itself; the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). Secondary (or Pharmaceutical) Manufacture concerns the production of medicines. The latter is also divided according to the different dosages that are required and there may well be separate responsibility for the manufacture of solid, liquid and sterile products too. How a medicine is packaged also needs careful consideration.
In any of these sectors there are lots of different production aspects to consider. Production planners must liaise with manufacturing and sales personnel to ensure that sufficient stock is produced to meet expected demand. The amount that can be produced is limited by the capacity of the manufacturing plant, so careful planning is essential. Efficient distribution of the medicine to hospitals and pharmacies is also important.
These are just some of the issues to contend with. Because, when a plan is in place and any new facilities built, staff will need to be trained and the teams structured to run and maintain the whole set up. Materials which come into the factory are tested to ensure that they meet the required specification and are then stored appropriately. And while all this is orchestrated, there has to be rigorous testing to make sure that the highest standards in quality are reached throughout the manufacturing process. The quality of the final pharmaceutical product is then confirmed through quality control testing.
These high standards are monitored and maintained through quality oversight ensuring compliance to stringent regulatory requirements. Before any batch of a medicine can be released for distribution, a Qualified Person (a specially trained scientist) must be satisfied that quality is assured.
A diverse range of careers
It’s not hard, then, to see why careers in this area are among the most diverse in the industry. Whatever the role, be it strategic or operational, you must be able to solve problems. So it’s no surprise that manufacturing in the pharmaceutical industry is universally acknowledged for the superb training that’s on offer.
The opportunities to work with leading edge equipment in state-of-the-art automated plants are immense and increasing all the time. So if you want to make an individual impact, you’ll need to be pretty creative yourself. Because it’s by being innovative that you’ll get the most out of machinery and inspire the people around you.
The range of people we need is extremely diverse: from specialists in areas such as quality assurance, to individuals with generalist business skills. Traditionally, though, many of the people working in manufacturing come from engineering or science backgrounds.
Skills and qualifications
Although many of these roles call for a high level of technical skills - usually gained through studying to degree level - there are also lots of opportunities available if you're eager to join the industry having finished your GCSEs, A levels, Standard Grade, Highers or equivalent qualifications. Training is often provided to enable you to study for an NVQ, BTEC or other qualifications.