Medical Roles in the Industry: Biologist, Pharmacist and Pharmaceutical Physician

It used to be that medical doctors would only accept work in hospitals and clinics. However, due to the rising demand for new treatments and pharmaceutical products, a new breed of physicians has emerged: the pharmaceutical physicians. A pharmaceutical physician is one which is tasked to lead and advise on the development of new treatments and the research of existing pharmaceutical products. These doctors usually give advice on medical research, pharmaceutical product development, registration of drugs, safety monitoring of drugs, evaluation, and marketing of medicines among patients.

So, what roles are actually played by the physician in the pharma sector? Physicians usually work in all aspects of the drug development process in the following areas:

Clinical Pharmacologist or Phase I Physician


This physician works with other research scientists such as biochemists, chemists, toxicologists and pharmacologists. Clinical pharmacologists usually do tests on healthy volunteers or subjects with a particular medical condition to assess safety and tolerability of drugs. They also perform pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic drug studies. This is a starting position for pharmaceutical physicians, as they are able to gain early exposure to drug development.

Clinical Research Physician or Phase II/III Physician

Serious doctor with touchpad.

This position enables the doctor to be involved in the design and monitoring of clinical trials that study the effects of new drugs on patients suffering from a certain medical condition. In Phase III large, multicenter clinical trials, clinical research physicians are also involved in evaluating safety and efficacy. Their study results are then submitted for international product registration. Clinical research physicians often work with clinical research associates (CRAs), managers and other health professionals in clinical trials, regulatory affairs, pharmacoeconomics and statistics.

Medical Adviser

Female Doctor Showing Digital Tablet

This physician works alongside marketing and sales professionals to deal with the commercial operations of a pharmaceutical company. Medical advisers in Medical Affairs deal with Phase III-IV clinical trials and Investigator Initiated Trials. They continually look for new drug indications, new routes of administration and new formulation changes. They also generate data on the cost-effectiveness of medications.

Pharmacovigilance or Drug Safety Adviser

Cheerful doctor on the phone in her office

This physician focuses on the safety and risk management of medicines. He or she usually has sufficient industry experience in medical affairs and clinical research.

Medical Science Liaison or Field Medical Adviser

Doctor collaborating with a businessman.

This position is similar to that of a medical adviser’s except that it is field-based and focuses on marketing support. Regional medical advisers usually assist businesses in reviewing evidence with purchasing organizations so that drugs may be included in formularies.

Medical Director


This physician usually heads the medical department consisting of other physicians, health professionals and admin staff. He or she usually heads the provision of medical information to the general public, the monitoring and setup of clinical trials, and the submission to regulatory bodies for marketing approval.

In summary, pharmaceutical physicians are at the forefront of medical progress because they are involved in the development and research of medicines. They deal with rapidly emerging fields of medicine and are able to contribute their expertise and knowledge to patients needing medicines. They become experts in the medical community and are able to lead clinical research programs that can save more lives in the future.


Hi-Tech Medicine: How Google and Apple Will Take Care of Our Health

More than 50 million of people die each year according to the World Health Organization. While majority of these people die due to old age, some die due to preventable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infectious diseases. This is why many agencies, both government and non-government, are finding ways on how to stop preventable diseases from claiming more lives. One of the recent trends in technology nowadays is in health care. According to the NHS (UK), technology can help lessen thousands of preventable deaths in the UK each year and can save many lives.

One way of preventing deaths is to track diseases digitally. Many people monitor their blood pressure and blood sugar levels at home, so their data can be automatically synced in their smartphones and to doctors’ computers in clinics. There are also some apps that can change lifestyle behaviours such as sleep trackers and weight trackers. Wearable devices are also now available which can easily capture data about a person’s activity levels and what is happening in his or her body. Recently, big companies such as Google, Apple and Samsung are developing new resources in collaboration with top health companies such as pharmaceuticals. Here are some examples of how digital medicine is evolving on these top companies.



The Samsung Gear smartwatch 

Samsung has recently become more ambitious in health care because it has developed wearable health tracking devices such as the Gear smartwatch and the Gear Fit wristband. They have also developed an app called S health which serves as a mobile personal fitness coach. Samsung has recently released medical devices in the field of diagnostic imaging. It has collaborated with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).



Google-Novartis Contact Lens

Google has a Life Science unit that develops products for diabetics. They are now developing a contact lens that can measure blood sugar levels in collaboration with Swiss pharmaceutical Novartis. Google glass, its internet-connected headgear shows promise in the field of surgery.

Google has also founded Calico (California Life Company) which specializes in age-related diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases. It has partnered with a pharmaceutical company, AbbVie in this endeavour.



Apple ResearchKit

Apple has recently expressed interest in health care. Their Apple watch serves as a heart rate tracker and a steps tracker. ReasearchKit is a big help to researchers who want to use iPhones. Apple also signified plans to focus more on diabetes care.



Intel has recently acquired Basis, a watch that serves as a health tracker. The company is also focusing on health systems that utilize big data.



IBM has a Watson Division that utilizes big data in health start-ups. It now focuses on health research that uses pattern recognition, data analysis, image interpretation and algorithms used to analyze patient records. Last year, IBM has partnered with Apple and medical device manufacturers Medtonic and Johnson and Johnson.



Qualcomm Life captures and delivers data from medical devices using its 2net platform. This platform collects data from connected devices during clinical trials. It is currently collaborating with Novartis for its “Trials of The Future” program.



Microsoft has a “Connected Health Platform”, which contains tools, solutions, prescription architecture, designs, accelerators, and deployments for its digital health partners. It is built on the principles of “Microsoft Connected Health Framework Architecture and Design Blueprint”. Microsoft Lync is now being used at Dallas Neurosurgical & Spine to review images and other health data. Microsoft Kinect allows a doctor to swipe patient records during surgery while remaining sterile. KInect also has potential in physical therapy or autism therapy to allow movement without using a controller.



Philips eCareCompanion

This company is involved in medical technology and clinical informatics. Its projects include “Philips eCareCoordinator”, “Philips eCareCompanion”, “Philips IntelliVue”, HealthSuite Digital Platform, and Philips My Heart Project. The platforms allowed doctors to monitor their patients at home.