The Pharmaceutical industry is continually trying to develop new medications for conditions that currently have no known cure. The industry also seeks to improve existing medications to provide safer or more effective therapies. All of this research and development work involves carefully designed experiments and clinical trials. These are governed by the regulatory authorities who also stipulate that trials of various kinds must be carried out. The pharmaceutical statistician designs the experiments and trials, analyses the data and interprets the results so that health care professionals can have the necessary information at their fingertips when they need it.
Statisticians (and statistical programmers) in the pharmaceutical industry are certainly not just "number crunchers"; instead, they are key players in all areas of drug development, from initial research and development right through to manufacturing of pharmaceutical products. They spend a lot of time working with people from different disciplines, including doctors, scientists, production managers and marketing teams. They work in many different geographical locations, including working with worldwide government agencies, all round the world.
Pharmaceutical statisticians carry out a wide range of activities. These often begin with the design of scientifically sound experiments, followed by helping to design collection methods for the data.
The statistician then has primary responsibility for the analysis of the collected data which they have to do throughout all stages of a drug's development. The final task is ensuring the correct interpretations of the data analyses, writing summaries for formal documentation, and presenting the results to senior managers and regulatory authorities as necessary.
Development of a new or improved drug typically passes through many stages, from laboratory work through to trials in humans (clinical trials) and finally to manufacturing and marketing. Pharmaceutical statisticians are closely involved with all stages of drug production.
The pharmaceutical industry has come to realise how important statisticians are. As a result, other opportunities are arising all the time. For example, statisticians are supporting areas such as pharmacology and, more recently, they have been instrumental in cost-effectiveness modelling.