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My journey from Community Pharmacy to Medical Affairs (Guest blog)


Hiya! I’m Devan, a pharmacist who currently works as a Medical Reviewer at PharmaLex. I’m honored to have been asked to share some advice about my career journey so far, so let’s go!

University Days..

I graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2017 with an Upper Second Class Honors degree. I did my pre-registration year at a community pharmacy local to my house, and then qualified the following year. I didn’t really know much about other careers a pharmacy graduate could follow, so I chose to locum for a while, whilst trying to research alternate roles. Working as a locum was quite intensive as I’d always be working really erratic hours e.g. 3pm-10pm one day and then 6:30 am-4:30 pm the next! I wanted a role which offered a stable work/life balance and offered progression so I looked into what the pharma industry had to offer…


I really enjoyed my pre-registration year, I loved my team and seeing the difference we made to our community was heartwarming. I did start to wonder though, if there was something else I could do job wise. I mean whilst pre-reg was exciting, I was always interested in the Pharmaceutical Industry and all the different career paths it had to offer. The only problem was I didn’t know much about the actual roles themselves, so I knew I had to do some research if I was to find a career which suited me.

Life after pre-registration

My research into pharma began by networking with professionals on LinkedIn or attending online webinars about alternate pharmacy careers. I applied to a few different pharmaceutical companies for entry level roles, but I was rejected from them all. I realized what I lacked was a strong CV, and practice when it came to job interviews, so I knew I had to work on those if I wanted a career change. I came across PharmacistWeb and worked with them to fully realize how the skills I picked up as an undergraduate and pre-reg student could be applied to a job in Pharma. I was also coached on how to come across during job interviews, as well as given information on the different Pharma roles out there.

It was then during this time, I became interested in work as a Final Medical Signatory, which was a job role only for doctors and UK-registered Pharmacists. A Final Medical Signatory is involved in the approval of a wide range of pharmaceutical industry generated promotional and non-promotional materials to ensure that they are compliant with the ABPI Code of Practice.

To make the transition to this role, most candidates start out in Medical Information and make the switch later on, once they’ve gained some experience. With this in mind, I began to apply for entry-level Medical Information roles, and hoped I’d at least get an interview or two.

Sometime later I was offered an interview for an Associate Global Medical Information specialist position for a company called Springer Healthcare. During my interview, I tried to come across as someone that was motivated, and determined to learn about the Medical Information process. I explained my reasoning for applying for the role, and what I hoped to get out of it in terms of skillset and progression.

Despite the guidance offered by PharmacistWeb, I wasn’t successful unfortunately as they felt another candidate was better suited for the role. However as luck would have it, a couple of months later, I received a call from them asking if I was still available for the role as they had a vacancy. Without a second of hesitation, I said yes. I finally got into Pharma!

Medical Information..

I still remember my first day in Medical Information, walking into the office with my suit on whilst trying my best to remember everyone’s names.. I wanted to make a good impression after all. It was a bit of a culture shock for me at first, working the previous year and couple of months in a dispensary, only to find myself now working in an office.

I worked in the Neurodegenerative Diseases and Cardio Metabolic Care Therapy Areas. The role involved responding to enquiries from Healthcare Professionals about our pharma clients treatments. These enquiries were answered by compiling a Global Response Document (GRD) which was created with information from the Summary of Product Characteristics, and with the latest most-up-to-date clinical evidence, which was identified during the literature search stages. I learnt how to run a literature search using the Embase and PubMed search systems and how to extract key information from references found. Finally after identifying the relevant references, I’d write up the GRD in a manner which was compliant with the client’s instructions.

Medical Reviewer..

After a year and a couple of months in Medical Information, I felt I was ready to make a change in my career and so I applied for a role as a Medical Reviewer, for a company called PharmaLex (formerly known as CompliMed). I came across the job vacancy whilst I was on PharmacistWeb, and immediately began to brainstorm ways I could be successful in my application. I contacted PharmacistWeb and used their interview service once more, this time ensuring I did my due diligence into the ABPI Code of Practice and how PharmaLex, as an organisation operated. I also prepared by familiarising myself with the STAR technique, which helped me realise the number of applicable scenarios I’d experienced during my relatively short career in Pharma. If I was to get the job, I’d also be trained as a Final Medical Signatory and so I knew, this was the breakthrough role I wanted. Fortunately, as a result of my efforts as well as the guidance provided by PharmacistWeb, I was successful in my application and began work as a Medical Reviewer.

My work as a Medical Reviewer was centered around the ABPI Code of Practice and ensuring that our pharma clients materials or activities complied with this. The ABPI Code puts patients first, ultimately ensuring that they are the ones who benefit from said activities. The Code was born out of necessity, once it became apparent that there needed to be stricter protocols for the advertising of medicines. For example, had there been the proper healthcare compliance measures in place during the time the teratogenic drug Thalidomide was first released onto the market, the subsequent consequences of using this drug in pregnant women could have been averted.

The Code is quite complex, containing 31 Clauses and sub-sections, but under the guidance of my mentor, Dr Rina Newton and the rest of my wonderful colleagues, I began to understand the Code and it’s requirements. What keeps my job interesting is that we have quite a few clients, each with their own unique treatments, and therapy area specialization etc. So one day, for example I could be working with a company that specializes in oncology treatments, and the next day, another that works on medicines for diabetes.

During this time, I also gained my Final Medical Signatory accreditation and with that am currently in the stages of transitioning to this new role, which is both an exciting and terrifying idea at the same time!


For those thinking about following an alternative career path, my advice would be to network as much as possible. In my case, someone who I connected with via LinkedIn actually recommended me PharmacistWeb for help, and the rest is history! It’s also important to do your research, so again in my case I wanted to find a career path where there was progression and I had a genuine interest in. Speaking and connecting with those in the career field I wanted to pursue as well as attending online webinars about the role, greatly helped with this. It’s also important to not get disheartened if you’re not successful initially, I mean I lost count of how many job applications I made before I finally got into Medical Information! But it’s about being persistent and having that determination, because in the end it’ll be worth it. The beauty about the Pharma industry is that once you’re in, you’re in, and transitioning between sectors is far more easier then trying to get in via an entry level route. I mean I never thought that within a couple of years of getting into Pharma, I’d qualify as a Final Medical Signatory and I owe that achievement to everyone who’s supported me during this journey. As for the future, I hope to fully master being a Medical Signatory, and ultimately be the best signatory I can be. It’s all very exciting, and it would not have been possible, had I not done the necessary research and reached out to PharmacistWeb for career advice and support.

If you would like to contact me for a chat please feel free to do so. My LinkedIn details are I’ve also collaborated with the ‘Alternate Pharmacy Careers’ team in an online webinar, where I’ve discussed my career in a bit more detail so please message me if you’d like to view the recording as well.


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