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What Is the Role of a Pharma Consultant And How to Become One

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June 24, 2022
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6 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

When was the last time you had to take medicine? Maybe you took a couple of painkillers after a strenuous workout recently, or you needed something to fight the flu?

Medicine is so cheap and readily available these days that most of us don’t even know the amount of research, trials, and financial investment that goes into bringing the different products to the market.

It takes a lot of scientists, researchers, C-suite executives, and pharma consultants to refine medicaments and medical equipment that are easily accessible by the vast majority of the population.

In this article, we will emphasize the role of pharmaceutical consultants and teach you how to become one.

What Is Pharma Consulting

A pharmaceutical consultant’s job is to provide clients with advice on the development of new pharmaceutical products and their sales. To succeed in pharma consulting, one needs qualifications as well as relevant licenses in their chosen field.

Generally, one needs to be qualified in areas like medicine, biotechnology, chemistry, and most importantly, business, to be able to have a lucrative career in the industry.

Unlike some other industries, the risk of things going wrong in pharma is way higher and consequences far more dangerous. Unfortunate reactions in customers could escalate to multi-million-dollar lawsuits. Another consequence could even be imprisonment if a pharma company unintentionally harms the health of its users through its products.

This is why a big pharma company has a team of highly experienced pharma consultants who help conduct rigorous clinical trials along and brainstorm new ways to serve their target audience.


  • Pharmaceutical consulting can be a lucrative career choice for educated and business-minded individuals because it is an evergreen industry.
  • One needs to be both business and pharma-savvy to be able to become a successful pharma consultant.
  • Pharma consultants can help businesses with financial advice,operations and processes, regulations and compliance, business development, and much more.
  • Having a qualification in pharmacy and business along with necessary certifications and licenses are key to a successful career as a pharma consultant.
  • Specializing in a particular niche in pharma consulting can help one position themselves as the go-to person in that niche, which could increase their chances of getting more clients or employment offers.

What Is the Role of a Pharma Consultant?

Here are some other key job duties of professionals in pharma consulting:

1. Corporate finance

Developing new medicines and medical equipment is no walk in the park. Everything from ideation and research to trials and production takes a large amount of financial investment. So, a very important aspect of pharma consulting is forecasting the costs that a company may have to incur in developing new products. Another aspect consists in predicting how long it will take them to recover these costs.

2. Routine operations

When a project begins, it’s highly unlikely that everything will go exactly as planned. Let’s suppose that a pharmaceutical company is trying to manufacture a new drug that can cure seasonal flu in 24 hours. Now, let’s assume that because this has never been done before, the process is taking longer than expected and the amount of waste produced in the factory is going out of proportion. In such a case, it might require a pharma consultant to inspect the operations and create robust processes that increase productivity and reduce waste.

3. Regulations and compliance

As mentioned before, mistakes in the pharma industry could ruin the lives of both company owners as well as customers. There is absolutely no room for complacency, and regulations must be strictly followed at all times. A pharma consultant can help create company policies. These can ensure that drug manufacturing occurs in accordance with the required safety rules and government regulations.

4. Equipment and processes

Someone who owns a pharmaceutical company or has invested in such a company may not necessarily have all the required knowledge of the latest machinery, equipment, and production methods in the industry. Pharma consultants can bridge this gap by recommending the best possible tools and processes to their clients or employers. This can help companies manufacture more, better quality products with maximum efficiency.

5. Business opportunities

Knowing how many drops of oxymetazoline hydrochloride can be used in one dosage, or what antihistamines are available for hay fever, is not enough. Pharma consulting requires candidates to have really sharp business acumen as well. As a pharma consultant, you will also have to help your client with expansion by looking for new business opportunities. Also, your job is to maintain relationships with existing stakeholders.

How to Become a Pharma Consultant?

Now that you know the job responsibilities of a pharma consultant, you may be intrigued to know how to actually become one. Well, if there’s one industry that’s here to stay, it’s pharma. Whether it’s recession or boom, people will always require medicines, health supplements, and prescription drugs. In order to enter pharma consulting and have a lasting career in the field, you’ll need the following:

1. Qualification in both business and pharmacy

If you go for a Bachelor of Pharmacy after school, you could opt for an MBA after you graduate. If your goal is to become a pharmacist, then a relevant qualification in the field will be fine. But in order to become a pharma consultant, you should have in-depth knowledge about running a business, too. You need to learn marketing, logistics, product development and distribution, business operations, and many other aspects of the corporate world that you simply can’t learn in pharmacy. You could even double-major in chemistry and business. Likewise, you could look for other similar education paths that train you to become a pharmacist as well as a consultant.

2. A niche to specialize in

Being a specialist in a specific niche can enable you to position yourself as a figure of authority in that niche. There are many other areas within pharma consulting that you can specialize in. For example, if you want to specialize in men's cosmetics, you could focus on hair styling gels and sprays, shampoo, conditioners, or other similar products. And if you want to become an expert in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, feel free to do so. However, it’s important to mention that you should only spend your time and energy specializing in a pharmaceutical niche that has huge growth potential. You don’t want to specialize in something that could go obsolete in 5 years. So, do some homework and shortlist the best niches.

3. Experience in leadership roles

Leading projects as a team leader or a project manager lets you create a track record of achievements. These you can later demonstrate to your pharma clients or employer. The fact is, when businesses look for a pharma consultant, they don’t just want someone who is good with chemicals. They need smart, business-minded people with an entrepreneurial spirit who can develop a business using foresight, industry knowledge, calculated decisions, and leadership experience.

4. Necessary certifications

If you thought a bachelor's degree and an MBA is enough, you may be right. Still, you may require additional education. In the pharmaceutical industry, proper knowledge and training are really essential and valued by employers and clients alike. So, if you want to build a career in, let’s say clinical drug development, you may want to earn a Graduate Certificate in Pharmaceutical Industry Practice. Depending on your location, you can go for certifications that will enhance your resume as well as knowledge. You can then use them to put your best foot forward when you’re working at pharmaceutical companies.

So, that’s what it takes to become a pharmaceutical consultant. In short, it is necessary to learn all about pharmaceuticals and business if you want to have a lasting career in this sector. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. People’s health, the company’s reputation, and lots of money are at stake when one engages in a pharma project. That’s why you may need more education and specialized training to become the best of the best. However, your hard work will very likely be fruitful soon because the pharma industry is an evergreen one.