Professor Alan Boyd, president of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine, and Dr Urmi Shukla, ST4 in pharmaceutical medicine, discuss what makes their specialty so unique and how trainees can best pursue a career in it.
Introduction to pharmaceutical medicine
Pharmaceutical medicine is the medical scientific discipline concerned with the discovery, development, evaluation, registration, monitoring and medical aspects of marketing of medicines for the benefit of patients and the health of the community. At the core of the discipline is the clinical testing of medicines through several ‘phases’ of clinical trials, to better understand the efficacy of a medicine and its safety profile or benefit-risk balance. The safety and wellbeing of volunteers and patients participating in clinical trials is of utmost importance.
Pharmaceutical physicians work in the pharmaceutical industry, drug regulatory authorities, contract research organisations and academic centres. Developing new medicines is a global endeavour, and pharmaceutical physicians work across the world and in a variety of regional and international legal and regulatory frameworks, and ethical and professional codes of medical practice and governance.
Training and working in pharmaceutical medicine
Pharmaceutical Medicine Specialty Training (PMST) is a competency-based, 4-year programme and is predominantly based upon in-work experience. The knowledge base covers modules such as medicines regulation, clinical pharmacology and drug safety surveillance.
Pharmaceutical medicine resources
- The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine
- Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine. Good Pharmaceutical Medical Practice. London: FPM, 2014.
- Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine. Survey of members on transparency in clinical trials: analysis report. London: FPM, 2014.
- British Association of Pharmaceutical Physicians
- BMA on pharmaceutical medicine
- Medical Care: pharmaceutical medicine
- Royal College of Physicians. Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics in a changing world. Report of a working party. London: RCP, 1999.
- Clinical Medicine articles:
- Picton C, Loughrey C, Webb A. The need for a prescribing competency framework to address the burden of complex polypharmacy among multiple long-term conditions. Clin Med 2016;16:470–4.
- Davies S, Walley T, Smye S et al. The NIHR at 10: transforming clinical research. Clin Med 2016;16:501–2.
- Coleman J, Pontefract S. Adverse drug reactions. Clin Med 2016;16:481–5.
- van den Heuvel T, Cohen A, Rissman R. European drug market entries 2015 with new mechanisms of action. Clin Med 2016;16:475–80.
- Hegade V, Kendrick S, Jones D. Drug treatment of pruritus in liver diseases. Clin Med 2015;15:351–7.
- Parvizi N, Woods K. Regulation of medicines and medical devices: contrasts and similarities. Clin Med 2014;14:46–12.
- Evans T, Gower J, Neilson J, Wass J, Smye S. Report of a Royal College of Physicians and National Institute for Health Research workshop – developing research capacity to ensure successful study development and delivery. Clin Med 2013;13:431–3.
- Editorial. Innovating for health: patients, physicians, the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS. Clin Med 2009;9:4–5.
- Higgins B, Williams B, Turner-Stokes (ed). Pharmacological management of hypertension. Concise guideline. Clin Med 2007;7:000.
- Saunders J, Wisely J. Promoting and facilitating ethical research. Clin Med 2007;7:433–5.
- Permanand G, Mossialos E, McKee M. Regulating medicines in Europe: the European Medicines Agency, marketing authorisation, transparency and pharmacovigilance. Clin Med 2006;6:87–90.
- Gennery B. Academic clinical research in the new regulatory environment. Clin Med 2005;5:39–41.
- Gale E. Between two cultures: the expert clinician and the pharmaceutical industry. Clin Med 2003;3:538–41.
- Future Hospital Journal article:
- Tomson C. Reducing the carbon footprint of hospital-based care. FHJ 2015;2:57–62.
Historical highlights from the library, archive and museum collection
RCP fellows’ interests in pharmacology over several centuries are reflected in the contents of the RCP library: herbals, books of materia medica, and pharmacopoeias from across Europe are a significant strength of the collection: Pharmacological preparations - evidence from the RCP library and archives.
In the 20th century, RCP fellows were instrumental in establishing pharmacology as a modern specialty, in its teaching and in the regulation of pharmaceuticals, often combining clinical practice with committee work: RCP fellows and the history of pharmacology in the 20th century.