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“Headed for Pharmaceuticals”

Posted June. 06, 2005 06:20,   


An increasing number of doctors and pharmacists are working for pharmaceutical companies instead of hospitals or pharmacies. This trend has emerged, as the success of practitioners is not guaranteed due to intensified competition and the separation of prescriptions and dispensation of medication. They are involved in more diverse sectors, including planning, marketing, sales, and customer consulting in addition to R&D.

Jumping Into a New Field-

All of the eight team members of the SA team at Boryung Pharmaceutical Co. are pharmacists. Joo Gyung-mi, a general director at the company who before, ran a pharmacy for 10 years, said, “I wanted to work in a pharmaceutical company where I could feel a sense of accomplishment in various fields,” and added, “The experience of having run a pharmacy helps a lot.”

Sales of pharmacies have substantially dropped since 2000, when the prescribing and dispensing of medication was separated, and pharmacists are increasingly “deviating” to other fields such as pharmaceuticals and home shopping businesses.

The Korean Pharmaceutical Association says that the number of in-house pharmacists not working in pharmacies is steadily increasing from 1420 in 2002 (5.58 percent of the total) to 1535 in 2003 (5.65 percent), and to 1579 in 2004 (5.94 percent).

Even doctors are looking for new career opportunities in other areas such as R&D and management.

Park Sang Jin (35), a marketing manager of the Asia-Pacific division in a multinational pharmaceutical company who used to be an obstetrician/gynecologist, said, “Although being a doctor in the hospital is more stable, I decided to change my job because I wanted to venture into a new field.”

Proactive Pharmaceuticals-

AstraZeneca Korea currently has 28 pharmacists and three doctors, but in 2001, there were 12 pharmacists and no doctors in the firm.

Lee Seung-woo, the representative director of the company hinted, “Companies perform better with pharmacists because they well know the efficacy of medications and can answer questions that require specialty knowledge.”

Moreover, in Pfizer Korea, the number of pharmacists and doctors increased from 49 and two in 2001 to 73 and five, respectively. Yuhan Co., Hanmi Pharmaceuticals, Chong Kun Dang, and Green Cross Corp. have experienced similar trends.

Pharmacists receive 3 to 4 million won more in salaries compared to regular employees in companies as they get additional benefits. Also, they are treated as general managers or executives according to their professional experience.

The satisfaction level of doctors in companies about their treatment is also relatively high as they are usually employed in positions higher than general managers.

“With fierce competition, the trend that even management planning and sales departments other than R&D recruit pharmacists or doctors will expand fast,” said Seong Soo-gi, the manager of the HR department at Dong-A Pharmaceutical.

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com