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The state of play within QA 2015

Although we are still in the early stages of 2015, it is a fair assumption that recent activity within the Pharmaceutical industry suggests a prosperous time ahead for those in the Quality Assurance profession.

Whilst the expiration of patents for a number of blockbuster drugs has sparked fears that the industry is in disarray, recent figures suggest that the current state of the Quality Assurance market is in good shape. At present, QA professionals are found to be in high demand with 16.54% of registered science vacancies being within this field, a figure bettered only in Germany and Switzerland (VacancySoft, 2015).

So why are Pharma’s looking to increase their headcount within their QA divisions? One reason could be that there has been a noticeable shift amongst their mind-sets to pool their knowledge and resources into exciting new therapeutic areas. This can be seen in the development of biologics, for example, where monoclonal antibodies to inhibit PCSK9 have been generated to lower lipid uptake and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease….a far cry from the typical treatment with statins. In fact, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s promising monoclonal treatment from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma has been predicted to reach sales of $650 million in 2015 (Pharmafocus, 2015). With a sales boom in this area, it is of no surprise that all aspects of Quality Assurance are subsequently up-scaled thus leading to the inevitable recruitment of more talent within this area.

Another potential factor could be linked to the fact that academic institutions have taken on the task of transforming some of the forgotten shelved concepts from Pharma’s into the next generation of therapeutics (Atak, 2015). An example of this could be seen in July 2014 when AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda and UCB all agreed to release their second-string molecules for further clinical study (Medical Research Council, 2014). This merging of resources and expertise means that these under-developed therapies have an opportunity to be thoroughly researched and developed into modern products that may replace ones those that are on the verge of expiration.

Interestingly, only 6% of QA vacancies last year were for senior level positions in comparison to 12.34% of Regulatory Affairs vacancies (VacancySoft, 2015). This suggests that the industry is looking more for an expansion in numbers to cope with the demands of manufacture as opposed to a need for a more specialised niche skill set that may be required in a position of seniority.

Whatever the underlying reason, it is clear to see that there is a necessity for skilled Quality Assurance professionals within this sector and as a result there will be fierce competition between rivalling organisations to recruit the very best from the talent pool in order to stay ahead of the competition.

If any professionals would like to discuss the market and their potential options further, or any companies would like a consultative discussion regarding the best way to build a strong talent pipeline in this rapidly changing market, feel free to get in touch on 0121 616 3476 or .


Atak, J.; Academic Drug Discovery – The Sussex Perspective;Innovation into Success: The Quarterly Journal of UKSPA; (2015); Issue 37; pp. 71-9.

January 2015 UK Pharmaceuticals Report: A review of 2014; VacancySoft; (2015)

Sales and Marketing News – January/February 2015; Pharmafocus; Vol. 17(1/2); pp. 12

Seven pharma companies offer up compounds to UK researchers; Medical Research Council; ; (2014); [Date accessed: 13/2/15]

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23rd February

market update

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