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Pharmacovigilance officers play a key role in the pharmaceutical industry and the development and testing of new medications. They ensure that drugs on the market are safe for patients and identify any problems.

What does a pharmacovigilance officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

A pharmacovigilance officer may also be called a drug safety officer. They are responsible for monitoring and reporting the effectiveness and any adverse effects or side effects of pharmaceutical products on the market in the general population and in hospitals and research trials. They must liaise closely with medical and drug company representatives, patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals to record the effectiveness of drugs and other treatments. The data is meticulously recorded, analysed and processed because the informed opinions of pharmacovigilance officers will help pharmaceutical companies maximise product safety and performance, and cut down on adverse effects.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • recording and reporting adverse reactions received from healthcare professionals and consumers
  • conducting in-depth interviews with patients and healthcare professionals
  • developing a thorough knowledge of products
  • completing periodic safety update reports on drugs and other treatments
  • writing and reviewing serious adverse effects reports and forms
  • flagging up early warning signs of adverse effects of drugs
  • minimising the risk of serious side effects
  • completing safety audits
  • working on clinical trials of new drugs

Typical employers of pharmacovigilance officers

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical device companies
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Regulatory authorities

Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services, specialist recruitment agencies, in national newspapers and in relevant scientific publications such as The Pharmaceutical Journal, New Scientist, Science and their respective websites.

Qualifications and training required

To become a pharmacovigilance officer, you will need a degree. Most employers will ask for a relevant life science or pharmacy degree. It’s also possible to get into this career as a qualified health professional, such as a nurse or pharmacist with relevant medical or nursing qualifications.

Key skills for pharmacists

  • Ability to keep meticulous records
  • Attention to detail
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to interact and communicate effectively with a wide range of people
  • A systematic approach to tasks
  • Excellent IT skills
  • Good interpretative skills
  • Team work
  • Good maths skills

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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