Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing: Get the Inside Scoop on Pharma Sales and Marketing Careers

Fadi Alkhateeb (University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, Charleston, West Virginia, USA)
Ephantus Gaitho (University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, Charleston, West Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing

ISSN: 1750-6123

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




Alkhateeb, F. and Gaitho, E. (2011), "Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing: Get the Inside Scoop on Pharma Sales and Marketing Careers", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 234-236.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing is written as a guide to anyone considering pharmaceutical sales and marketing as a career. As the book states, the reader is given an inside scoop on pharmaceutical sales and marketing careers. The book is small, but very meticulous. The book is divided into two major sections: “the scoop” and “getting hired”. The scoop section is more general and tries to educate the reader more about the pharmaceutical companies/industry in general. The section (scoop) is divided into five chapters. The chapters include an overview of the biopharmaceutical industry, biopharmaceutical industry trends, major issues and challenges, discovery, testing and approval process (of pharmaceuticals) and overview of jobs and career paths. The next section is on “getting hired”. This section is also divided into five chapters. The section focuses more on the individual who is considering a career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. The chapters include the educational requirements for a career in pharmaceutical sales, internships, how to make a resume, cover letter and examples of resumes, hiring and interview process, career transitions, corporate policies, life on the job and the corporate culture one should expect if they choose pharmaceutical sales and marketing as a career.

The book begins with a general introduction of the difference between Big pharma, Big Biotech and Biopharmaceuticals. The book provides real world examples of companies that fall into the three categories and are big players in the specific field. The introduction is very short, fun to read and well defined. An important strength of this book that is seen throughout the chapters is that the author introduces the reader to pharmaceutical jargons, defines them and makes it very easy to understand. Chapter 1 begins with giving the reader overview of the pharmaceutical industry. The reader is given an overview of how the companies are classified into different tiers and inclusion/exclusion criteria that are taken into consideration. The book then goes into more detail about the US pharmaceutical industry. The reader or future pharmaceutical career aspirant is introduced to the main lobbying and trade organization for the Big Pharma – The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. As the book explains, the lack of price control is a result of most pharmaceutical companies in the USA being privately owned and a strong industry lobbying. The FDA role in the past, present and future is then defined. Chapter 1 also has a small section for vaccines and “blockbusters”. Blockbusters are defined in the introduction as a “drug whose annual revenues reach or exceed $1 billion” (Moussalli, 2006, p. 2). The chapter finishes by giving the reader an overview of tactics pharmaceutical companies use to boost productivity and the current environment. From this the reader is shown that the book is not merely just trying to introduce him or her to the pharmaceutical industry, but also makes the reader aware that there are some insider details in the pharmaceutical industry.

The second chapter of this book titled “Biopharmaceutical industry trends” tries to explain to the reader or the prospect why the biopharmaceutical industry is expected to grow in the next few years. A strong selling point for this chapter is that all the trends are supported by statistics from very credible organizations such as the US census bureau. The major negative for this chapter is that it just list trends that are favorable. One could argue that the drawback of Chapter 2 is covered in the next chapter which goes into the major issues and challenges faced in the Biopharmaceutical industry. Chapter 3 highlights one of the major challenges facing pharmaceutical sales in the USA, the issue of “reimportation”. Reimportation is defined in the book as the practice of buying cheaper drugs from Canadian pharmacies. Another drawback of this book which is highlighted by this section is the issue of not being detailed on topics that are very crucial in the pharmaceutical industry such as drug reimportation. However, we believe that the book is very meticulous and gives enough real world applications thus preventing the reader from getting bored with the book.

The “Discovery, testing and approval process” chapter is like a “crash” course for the reader into how a drug is discovered, tested and what phases it has to go through before it is approved by the FDA. This chapter is very small and the reader would have to go to other sources if she/he wanted to learn more about this section. The next section is probably the most important section for an individual thinking of a career in pharmaceutical sales. The section gives the reader an overview of the different specializations one can get into if she/he decides to go into marketing or sales. The organization if this chapter and the book in general is one of the major strengths of the book. It is very clear and very logical. The reader or prospective job applicant is given some qualities that companies are looking for in case she/he chooses to go into the field sales and the average base salary one should expect.

The “getting hired” section is more like a guide for the requirement and minimum qualifications for a career in pharmaceutical sales. This chapter provides a detailed breakdown of different positions in the pharmaceutical sales and marketing function, as well as the hiring requirements for each position. A major strength with this book is that it not only mentions the minimum requirement for each career in pharmaceutical sales, but also directs the individual in the right direction if the individual lacks the minimum qualification. For example, the colleges and universities or institutes offering degrees or training programs with the preferred minimum degrees are listed (on pp. 83‐84). The chapter for resumes and cover letter provides the individual the minimum requirement, what should be on the resume and cover letter and examples of both cover letter and resumes. The last few chapters are more like a guide (what to do, what to expect, strategy, how to dress, etc.) to individuals who have already decided that pharmaceutical sales and marketing is the career path they want to take. A major strength with these sections is the personal anecdotes given throughout the chapters. It is important to mention that the Appendix includes some very important information the reader or the prospective candidate should give proper attention to.

Overall this book is very well written, organized, easy to read and comprehensive. The fact that the book does not assume that the reader knows or should know a certain topic or definition makes it a major strength. The author definitely took the time to make sure that the ideas flowed in a logical and easy to understand manner. The personal anecdotes make the book fun to read. There are few weaknesses with this book.The major weakness is the fact that, if the reader had a particular interest in a certain topic she/he would have to go to other resources to supplement this book. The upside of this is that the author directs the reader in the right direction in the Appendix section to find the supplemental information. This book will serve as an important resource for pharmacy and business major students who want to work in the pharmaceutical marketing and sales field.

Further Reading

Moussalli, C. (2006), Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales and Marketing: Get the Inside Scoop on Pharma Sales and Marketing Careers, Vault Inc., New York, NY.

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