GUEST BLOG: Statisticians in the pharmaceutical industry

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by Vicky Marriott, Promoting Statistical Insight (PSI)

Studying maths or statistics? Interested in using statistics to help bring life-saving medicines to market? A career as a medical statistician in the pharmaceutical industry could be for you.

PSI is a non-profit organisation which brings pharmaceutical statisticians together to collaborate, offer further training and network to shape drug development. We also run careers events and talks to try to raise awareness of the industry and the crucial role of a pharmaceutical statistician or statistical programmer.

Job role

It’s a bit of a myth that statisticians work alone and just analyse data at the end of a clinical trial. A key part of the job is clinical trial design. One common problem that we face is how many patients to test a new drug on in order to be confident it works. Let’s say you test a new drug on 10 patients; even the best results in the world will not allow you to market the drug (quite rightly!). On the other hand, if you test 100,000 patients you’ll be pretty confident in the result, but your company will go bankrupt in the process. So how many patients are enough?

Another part of our role is to make sure we’re collecting high-quality, useable data so that we can prove whether the drug works and whether it’s safe. The data needs to be robust and trustworthy so that we can share our results with regulatory agencies and answer any possible questions that they might have.

Our approach to trial design changes depending on if we’re fighting malaria, cancer, asthma, migraines or Alzheimer’s as patient populations are all unique and all have different needs from their medication. We work in large project teams alongside medical experts, data managers and clinical trial monitors to ensure we run successful trials and bring new life-changing drugs to the market as quickly as possible.

Learn more

Watch the following video from a recent graduate on how he entered the industry, and what work he’s been involved in since he started.

PSI Careers Event 2015 – New Starters presentation

More information

Please visit and follow us on twitter @PSIUpdate. You can also find more PSI videos on the Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry YouTube channel, including a video from the recent PSI Careers Event at the University of Sheffield. Preparation has already started for next year’s event so please look out for further details!