Pharmaceutical engineers are involved in all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing. This includes designing and operating machines, determining product presentation, designing packaging labels, and more. They can also have roles designing, building, operating, and improving pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. Pharmaceutical engineers also design, build, and operate pharmaceutical research facilities too.
The job is a rewarding and challenging one. After all, the products you are responsible for developing or manufacturing as a pharmaceutical engineer help save lives. There are serious responsibilities that come with this too in relation to patient safety and regulatory compliance. Every day, however, the jobs that pharmaceutical engineers do have a positive impact on society’s health and wellbeing.
What Do Pharmaceutical Engineers Do?
In manufacturing, pharmaceutical engineers are involved in the processes that convert chemical and biological materials into pharmaceutical products and therapies. Healthcare providers or individuals then buy these products to treat a range of different diseases and medical conditions.
Due to the nature of the products that pharmaceutical engineers help develop, they often work in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Those facilities use the latest equipment, processes, and software solutions to ensure the products produced are profitable, safe, and regulatory compliant. There is intense competition in the pharmaceutical industry, though, particularly in relation to research and development. As a result, the only people who often get to see inside these facilities are pharmaceutical engineers and others involved in their design, management, and operation.
The manufacturing processes that pharmaceutical engineers can be involved in include:
- Product conception, although this is often in laboratories and research facilities rather than manufacturing plants
- Designing the product, a role that, again, often takes place in a laboratory
- Scaling up production capabilities, a role that is crucial to the financial success of the pharmaceutical company
- Manufacturing the product
- Labelling the product and ensuring compliance
- Packaging the product to optimise distribution
One of the key responsibilities of a pharmaceutical engineer whatever their job role is the elimination of risk to patient safety, i.e. the people who ultimately take the medications and other manufactured products.
In addition, pharmaceutical engineers also have a responsibility to eliminate risks to staff working in product manufacturing and distribution. They have a responsibility to protect the environment too.
As already mentioned, there are stringent regulatory and compliance issues that apply to pharmaceutical manufacturing. As a result, pharmaceutical engineers must have detailed knowledge of all these issues. In some situations, a pharmaceutical engineer will need to be aware of regulations in multiple jurisdictions.
As a result of the regulatory and compliance aspects of the job, pharmaceutical engineers are involved in:
- Validation Assurance (VA)
- Quality control
- Maintaining GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant facilities
- And more
What Is a Typical Day Like?
A pharmaceutical engineer’s typical day will depend on the company they work in and the role they do. Those roles include:
- Research of new drugs as well as drug delivery methods and systems
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing
- Labelling and packaging
- Manufacturing facility design
- System and process automation
- Sales and marketing
- And more
So, pharmaceutical engineers can do a varied range of jobs plus there are multiple career paths available. In all situations, however, being a pharmaceutical engineer is a satisfying, financially rewarding, and personally fulfilling career to pursue.