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A Career in the Pharmaceutical Sciences. Unlimited Potential. Sponsored by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. What are the Pharmaceutical Sciences?.

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A Career in the Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Unlimited Potential

Sponsored by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists

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What are the Pharmaceutical Sciences?

  • The pharmaceutical sciences combine a broad range of scientific disciplines that are critical to the discovery and development of new drugs and therapies.

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Drug Discovery and Design

  • Taxol Synthesis-Science Saving Lives

3D model of a Taxol molecule

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Drug Delivery


Recent research findings from the University of Arizona

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Drug Delivery

Nicotine patch used to help people stop smoking

Cross-sectional diagram of a nicotine patch

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Drug Action

Drugs entering a cell via several different mechanisms

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Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism



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Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism


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Drug Analysis

A research assistant readying an analytical system for drug analysis

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Cost Effectiveness of Medicines

The economic impact of pharmacy care

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Education/Training Options

  • B.S./M.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Biomedical Engineering, Information Technology, or related field

  • Pharm.D.

  • Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences

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Career Prospects

  • Pharmaceutical Industry - for all degree levels

  • Research Laboratories - for all degree levels

  • Teaching/Research in Academics - Ph.D. or Pharm.D.

  • Regulatory Agencies - for all degree levels

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Mean Base Annual Salaries Overall (x $1000)

(Based on 2001 AAPS Salary Survey)

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Mean Base Annual Salaries by Experience (x $1000)

(Based on 2001 AAPS Salary Survey)

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Is a Career in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Right for Me?

It certainly is if:

  • You enjoy science classes and want to pursue a science-based career.

  • You desire to contribute to the health and well-being of society through the development of medicines and therapies.

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Contact Information

  • American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)

    • www.aaps.org

    • 703-243-2800

  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)

    • www.aacp.org

    • 703-739-2330

  • American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA)

    • www.aphanet.org

    • 202-628-4410

  • Local Schools of Pharmacy

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Presentation Notes

  • Slide3 - Drug Discovery and Design deals with the design and synthesis of new drug molecules. This category includes specialized fields of study such as medicinal chemistry, combinatorial chemistry and biotechnology. Taxol is a potent anti-cancer agent found in small amounts in the bark of the slow growing Pacific yew tree. Unfortunately the process that extracts the drug from the bark also kills the tree. One adult tree produces only 1 gram of this medication. Through the advances of medicinal chemistry, a way has been found to produce a taxol-like drug (Taxolene) from the needles of the European yew tree. This pharmaceutical breakthrough has greatly increasing the availability of this drug.

  • Slide 4 -Drug Delivery is concerned with the design of dosage forms - such as tablets, injections or patches - that will deliver the drug in the right amount at the right time within a patient. The normal model of delivery of insulin to the patients is through multiple daily intramuscular or subcutaneous injections. To bridge the gap in the treatment of patients with diabetes, a variety of approaches have been attempted. A pharmaceutical lab at the University of Arizona is trying to develop a non-painful and an effective way of delivering insulin into the body. They have compared the reduction of plasma glucose levels following the use of eye drops and a newly formulated ocular insert. This graph illustrates that when the new ocular formulation was used, the reduction of glucose levels persisted for more than 8 hours. (Research conducted in Dr. Sam Yalkowsky’s laboratory, University of Arizona)

  • Slide 5 - Another example of drug delivery research is the nicotine patch. Nicotine patches were developed to delivery nicotine through the skin. This type of system has been used effectively to help people quit smoking. (left scan PDR 1999; right scan Chien ed. Transdermal Controlled Systemic Medications. Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York 1987.)

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Presentation Notes

  • Slide 6 -Drug Action examines how the drug itself actually works in a living system. The action of the drug can be studied at the molecular level, in a cell, an organ, and in animals. Specialty fields include molecular biology, pharmacology, pharmacodynamics, toxicology and biochemistry.

  • Slide 7 - Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism. This discipline examines the behavior of the drug in the body. Researchers in this discipline perform studies to examine the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of drugs and the kinetics of drug responses. An example of such research showed that grapefruit juice could have dangerous interactions with a number of medications. The study shown here has looked at the effect of grapefruit juice on the systemic exposure of a cholesterol-lowering agent, lovastatin. Grapefruit juice greatly increased the systemic exposure of lovastatin. This may increase the risk of skeletal muscle toxicity associated with lovastatin. The following warning label has been posted as a result of this type of research: Avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while being treated with the following medications: CYCLOSPORINE, FELODIPINE, MIDAZOLAM, NIFEDIPINE, NISOLDIPINE, QUINIDINE, TERAZOSIN, TERFENADINE, TRIAZOLAM, LOVASTATIN, AND SIMVASTATIN. (Graph reproduced from Kantola et al. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 1998; 63:397-402)

  • Slide 8 -Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism. Another example of this research area is examination of the interactions of medication when used concomitantly. Drug-drug interactions can cause unwanted adverse effects and/or reduce the effectiveness of the medications. Tamoxifen is a medication used to treat and prevent breast cancer. Rifampin is used in the treatment of patients with tuberculosis. The systemic exposure of tamoxifen measured as the area under the plasma concentration versus time curve was decreased significantly when coadministered with rifampin. This can reduce the efficacy of tamoxifen. (Graph reproduced from Kivisto et al., Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics 1998; 64:648-654)

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Presentation Notes

  • Slide 9 - Drug Analysis involves separating, identifying, and quantifying the components of a sample. Analytical chemistry is an important component of all areas of the pharmaceutical sciences.

  • Slide 10 -Pharmacoeconomics examines the health and economic related outcomes of drug selection and patient management (e.g., quality of life, physician visits, potential hospitalization). An example of research in this discipline found that each year, avoidable medication-related problems cost the U.S. $76.5 billion in additional medical associate expenses. $45.6 billion of this unnecessary cost can be avoided by implementing proper pharmaceutical care, such as: proper drug choice, proper use of the drug, and improving patient compliance.(Bootman JL, Johnson JA. Drug-related mortality and the economic impact of pharmaceutical care. Am J Hosp Pharm. 1997; 54:554-558)

  • Slide 12 - There are wide range of employment opportunities in the pharmacy sciences. The three major areas of employment are industry (drug manufactures), academia (universities), and the government (the FDA). This is the average salary breakdown for a pharmacy science Ph.D. (www.aaps.org/members/newsletter/dec98/salsurv.htm)

  • Slide 13 - This is a slide on the average salary in different employment groups. (www.aaps.org/members/newsletter/dec98/salsurv.htm)

  • Slide 14 - This is a slide on the average salary in industry broken down by degree type and years of experience. (www.aaps.org/members/newsletter/dec98/salsurv.htm)