Instead of telling you boring details of the MD Pharmacology course, I will tell you my own story in brief of MD Pharmacology, what I know/ learned about it in past few years about the course, what kind of job profiles and salary you can get, and the opinion of people working in the industry.

How & Why I took MD Pharmacology

I have done my MD Pharmacology from Dept. of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai. I finished my MD in 2017 after which I did my 1-year bonded service from the same department. Right now, I am working as an Assistant Professor at the same place.

Since I passed out my MBBS from TN Medical College, Mumbai, I wanted to look for a specialty course that is not clinical. I used to have a look at the LinkedIn profiles of people working in Pharmaceutical companies and almost all of them used to have MD Pharmacology degrees. I had even given interviews at a couple of places including at Pfizer for the role of Medical Science Liaison (MSL) for which I was not selected. I had a few ideas of my own to start websites. One of these was starting www.desimedicos.com which I started in 2013. By this time, I was pretty sure to do MD Pharmacology as the opportunities for me would be more in this field than any other.

I took the admission to MD Pharmacology at GSMC in 2014. During the counseling, I was getting seats like General surgery and Pathology which put me in dilemma and made me think even after I took the MD Pharmacology seat if it was the right decision to take up MD Pharmacology. If I look back on time it was the right decision.

MD Pharmacology at GSMC is counted as one of the best in the country. Among the top 3 places in India according to many. The Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at GSMC is big with a lot of faculty members and 7 seats when I had joined in 2014. Now it has 10 seats from 2015 onwards.

Residency

We had multiple postings during the first year of residency including the Neuropharmacology lab, experimental lab, animal house, and Ayurveda Research Centre and Clinical Pharmacology.

In the neuropharmacology lab, we used to do animal experiments on various instruments that are available in the lab. For example, we could test analgesic drugs by giving it to animals and then testing on the instrument like a hot plate analgesiometer. Personally, I hated animal experiments due to which I had chosen a clinical research study as my dissertation topic under the guidance of Dr. Yashashri Shetty.

In the experimental lab, we had to dissect the animal and mount the tissues (rat colon, rat stomach fundus, rat uterus, guinea pig ileum) in the bioassay instruments to check the effects of drugs on the tissues by checking contraction of the tissues with drugs and drawing graphs.

We also had to give seminars and journal clubs. Journal club (JC) is a presentation in which we were given a research paper and we had to criticize the paper scientifically.

During the 2nd year, we were posted in Dept. of Clinical Pharmacology (which had DM Clinical Pharmacology courses) and industry posting. In Clinical Pharmacology, we had to help in carrying out the clinical trials and Pharmacovigilance. We were asked to go to the wards and get 2 adverse drug reaction (ADR) cases each day. I was posted in the Ferring Pharmaceuticals for 1 month as an intern in which mostly I did work on preparing PowerPoint presentations.

During the final year, it was mostly completing the data analysis and writing the dissertation and submission to the university (MUHS).

During the residency were also given teaching duty in which we had to take lectures of nursing and OT/PT students.

There are some colleges which have a Pharmacology department which is not very active. I have heard of departments that don’t have any seminar, JC, PG activity, posting, etc. The only thing which the student does is reading Goodman Gilman and finishing up their dissertation work in the first year itself. Some residents even work part-time in Pharmacovigilance. There are some students from not so good institutes who are really good and manage to do everything possible on their own. But institute from where you are doing the MD Pharmacology makes a lot of difference.

Along with all the teaching/ learning activities, Pharmacology residents get plenty of time for extracurricular activities and personal development. This is all because of pharmacology being a para-clinical subject and no clinical responsibilities. Many residents become members of resident doctors associations like MARD and do management. This all enhances the management and leadership skills of the resident which are very valuable in the corporate world.

Job Opportunities

Opportunities after doing MD Pharmacology are many with posts like Medical Advisor, Regional Medical Advisor, Medical Science Liaison, Pharmacovigilance, medical writing, medical monitoring, clinical research manager, clinical pharmacologist and more. I did not write academics as an option as the vacant posts are minimal because of saturation and it is very difficult to get such posts with decent pay. But lately, there have been many cases in which people who have been working in the industry are actively trying to go into academics because of multiple reasons including and not just limited to frustration (workload) of industry and family reasons.

One of the main reasons why students opt for MD Pharmacology is because of the salary. So, yes. MD Pharmacology will get you a good package from companies with a starting salary of 12 LPA (lakhs/ annum) being a common average. I have seen people get packages up to 15 LPA as a fresher.

Along with high salaries, comes high work responsibilities and work hours. At junior level the working hours are less but as you move up the ladder, it increases. I have seen people working 12 hours a day within few years of joining the industry and at senior level people may even have to work more than that.

Regarding the job profile, I thought to ask my friends and contacts to write about the work profile, satisfaction, salary, promotions, etc. This was because they are working in the industry for a while and they would have a better idea about things than me. I have not written the names of some who have given their opinion below, as they wanted to remain anonymous.

Opinions of MD Pharmacology degree holders about the course

Medical Advisor

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. MD 2016

Q. Why did you choose to do MD Pharmacology course?
A. Research related branch, better work-life balance, multiple options of career to explore

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. RMA, MA

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Mckinsey report defines Financial aspect, professionally medical affairs is rewarding, personal life gets sacrifices more relatively but not as worse as clinicians

Q. What was the reason for you to choose industry job?
A. Salary, Glamour, Travel, Faster Growth

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Scientific head, Travel, salary, good work life balance

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. You are looked as a medical representative by everyone except you and sales/marketing colleague

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Radiology

Senior Medical Advisor- Boehringer Ingelheim India

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. MD- Seth GSMC & KEMH
Senior Medical Advisor- Boehringer Ingelheim India

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. Didn’t get MD Medicine in a reputed institution

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Medical Advisor, Boehringer Ingelheim India- past post

Q. Tell us something about the salary in your work profile
A. CMEs, field trainings, scientific content development

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Depends on how you perform and can show agility

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. It is evolving and challenging

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Corporate life, good work-personal life balance, good payouts

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Competition, targets, stress

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. MD Medicine- out of passion

Q. Any extra points you would like to share with students?
A. Start developing soft skills early if you want to grow in the industry quickly

Dr. Apoorv

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. MD from Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, 2018. Working as a Regional Medical Advisor in an MNC

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. Not much interested in clinical branches. Pharmacology offered the best career prospects among the non-clinical branches with the lifestyle I preferred to live.

Q. Present and past posts you held in the industry
A. First job

Q. Tell us something about your work profile
A. Key Opinion Leader (KOL) engagements, Insights collection, Input to drive marketing strategy, Sales Training, Complying ethical norms of medico marketing

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Financial: steady growth. Less than clinical branches though
Professional: Life eases with more experience as travel decreases and you grow more confident in communicating with people. Developing a good relationship with KOL certainly helps in long-term
Personal: Totally depends on the individual

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. I was offered job in a reputed MNC in one of the most sought after Therapy Area. Plus the corporate job has its own perks. I certainly enjoy travelling and visiting the best properties in the country. Corporates treat you quite well

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Good ethical values, Comfortable workplace, Many opportunities for self-development, No emergency and free weekends. Overall good balance of work-leisure.

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Field visits requiring you to wait outside the doctors’ clinic, Not every Healthcare Professional (HCP) understands and appreciates the role of Medical personnel from the Pharma industry. A lot of travel means you will have to spend time away from your family.

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Radiology.

Dr. Manjunath TA

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. Passed MD from Seth G S Medical College & K E M Hospital, Mumbai in 2015. Currently employed in Medical Affairs role as Medical Manager in Astellas Singapore

Q. Why did you choose to do MD Pharmacology course?
A. After working as a clinician after my MBBS, I was very clear that I want to have a career in medical affairs or in corporate sector

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Medical Advisor, Manager Medical Affairs, Therapy Lead, Medical Manager. Presently I am employed with Astellas as Therapeutic Area (TA) Lead and working across MA function of specialty TAs in South/South East Asian affiliates. I help create and execute scientific & medical strategies aligned with commercial strategies poised for significant revenue generation while contributing to patient care and shaping of therapy areas. I am involved in medical governance of medical and commercial activities, KEE/TL cultivation & management, clinical operations, regulatory support and stakeholder management.

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Financial: Good but still lesser compared to commercial peers compared to the value we bring
Professional: Very good, exposure to cross functions, multiple countries, opportunity to hone varied skillsets
Personal: Very good, can strike a perfect work-life balance

Q. What was the reason for you to choose an industry job?
A. Always wanted a challenging job with versatile demands, international exposure, people and processes management

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Scope of work, People interactions, International exposure

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Growth is limited compared to commercial roles

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Dermatology with a fellowship in esthetic and regenerative medicine.
Flexible work hours, a career in metro and still the satisfaction of a clinician
Ultimately living a good lifestyle has influenced all my choices so far

Q. Any extra points you would like to share with students?
A. Considering an MBA soon after MBBS from a premier B school and venturing directly into the commercial role can also be a good start for someone with interest and possession of good business acumen and people skills

Dr. Kritarth Singh

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. KEM, 2017, Handling Medical Affairs for India and Sri Lanka for Astellas Pharmaceuticals (Transplant and Infectious Disease)

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. Clinical seat options were not of choice

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Medical Affairs Professional who has handled multiple therapies at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals over a period of 18 months.

Q. Tell us something about the salary in your work profile
A. At the current office, attending various global strategic meets, handling internal and external stakeholders, generating insights from KOLs, designing a promotional strategy with an internal team, sales training, scientific update dissemination

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Professional growth depends on the passion to add value to Medical Affairs function. Financial growth will follow depending on how much you perform in the initial 4-5 years. Adequate leisure time, for now, to concentrate on personal development as well

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. Confidence of doing well in Medical Affairs domain

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. New challenges every other time, Communication with top notch HCPs and chance to collaborate with them, Contribution in updating medical knowledge of others

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Stakeholder management may be frustrating

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. No. I think luckily I am in the right field

Q. Any extra points you would like to share with students?
A. Excellent communication skills needed to excel in industry, especially Medical Affairs. If one lacks that, better avoid joining Medical Affairs.

R&D Director in J&J

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. DM pass out in 2006, MD pass out in 2003. Currently working as R&D Director in J&J

Q. Why did you choose to do MD Pharmacology course?
A. Not first choice. Always wanted to do MD Medicine. In 2nd attempt in PG entrance took MD pharmac in Bhopal as stipend was good and it was on the railway main line to my city

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Present- R&D Director, GCO, J&J. Previous country head, Covance and Sr Medical Dir, CV
Metabolic, Covance; Director Clinical Pharmacology MSD-SUN JV; DGM Clinical R&D Glenmark,
Manager, Clin ops, Pfizer

Q. Tell us something about the salary range in your work profile at various stages of your experience.
A. Starting 5-10 lac, then mid-management between 15-25 and senior-level 30-60 LPA

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Compared to clinical the salary are lower unless you reach several years into seniority. Always poorer than commercial folks in the organization with MBA. If you are lucky and get a global role then you may get stock options which then help your CTC considerably

Q. What was the reason for you to choose industry job?
A. Didn’t want to go into teaching

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Get to do diverse activities like leading teams, closer to science

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Sometimes comparing to clinical peers and the salary/ recognition that they receive

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Yes- MD medicine and super specialization. Always wanted to be in clinical science

Senior Medical Advisor & Clinical safety lead

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. CU Shah Medical College pass out.

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. Personal interest

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Senior Medical Advisor and Clinical safety lead for India and South East Asia

Q. What kind of work do you routinely do at your office? (Your job description)
A. Clinical research – Feasibility, Medical monitoring, safety reporting, study team training, providing inputs on clinical study documents like Protocol, CSR, ICFs, regulatory presentations

Q. Tell us something about the salary in your work profile
A. Starting 16-17 Then based on performance and subsequent steps.

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. All aspects

Q. How many hours do you work every day? (average number of hours per day/ week)
A. 9-10 daily

Q. What was the reason for you to choose your industry job?
A. More fulfilling and rewarding

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Good profile, work-life balance, company and salary

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. It’s a desk job

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Not really

Q. Finally, would you recommend a PG aspirant to take up MD Pharmacology today? Please give reasons for your answer.
A. No. It’s highly saturated now. You may not get the desired quality of work. It’s devalued significantly.

Dr. Nidhi Moondra

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. I passed out from Mimer Medical College, Pune in 2015. I am working as a Medical Science Lead in Clinical Development in a pharmaceutical company in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am responsible for a phase 3, a phase 4 and a phase 1 clinical trial of a biologic in atopic dermatitis

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. I wanted to work in a corporate world and have a work-life balance

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Senior Medical Manager and Medical Science Lead. I design clinical trials, execute them, and do medical monitoring and oversight of CROs.

Q. Tell us something about the salary in your work profile
A. As it is outside India, it is at a higher range.

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. A very good place for MD Pharmacology to learn and grow. You can step up being a manager in clinical development or stay as a subject matter expert and do multiple trials at a time.

Q. How many hours do you work every day? (average number of hours per day/ week)
A. 7-8 hours/ day

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Work-Life Balance and flexible working hours

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. As it is outside India, you feel a lack of your own medical circle of friends in the Pharma industry. In India, it might be easier.

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. No

Q. Finally, would you recommend a PG aspirant to take up MD Pharmacology today? Please give reasons for your answer.
A. If you like to explore your skillsets outside medical knowledge, then the industry is a good place. You can learn marketing to IT to statistics and anything that you like.

Dr. Ketan Asawale

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. MD from Shri Vasantrao Naik Govt medical College Yavatmal. Passed in 2017. Currently working as Medical Advisor for Novartis

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. For the lifestyle

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Past Medical Advisor at Emcure Pharmaceuticals.
Currently Medical Advisor with Novartis. The work profile is Medico marketing

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Financially better than an average clinician. Professionally depends on the line you choose in the future wrt the job profile. Personal time is ample.

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. Lifestyle

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Work-life balance

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. Too many stakeholders to manage. A lot of conflicts.

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. No

Q. Finally, would you recommend a PG aspirant to take up MD Pharmacology today? Please give reasons for your answer.
A. It depends on the reason why the student wants to take up pharmacology. I will definitely advise but not without understanding the person depending on his or her personality and expectations.

Dr. Abhishek Phatak

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. MD from TNMC, Mumbai, 2013 to 2016. Currently working in the Cipla drug safety department.

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. I chose this branch because of my personal interest in clinical research and pharmacovigilance in spite of having a good rank in NEET PG.

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Currently working as a Manager Drug safety physician at Cipla Vikhroli location. I previously worked as a Safety physician at the Sciformix Pune location (now it’s Covance).

Q. What kind of work do you routinely do at your office? (Your job description)
A. We look after drug safety of all Cipla products marketed globally, involved in audits and inspections by regulatory authorities like TGA, MHRA to name a few. We perform medical review of selected ICSRs, clinical trial cases, all aggregate reports like PEBRER, PADER, PSUR, draft and review risk management plan, analysis of rapid alert notifications and drafting if required, involved in signal detection activities, vendor management, etc.

Q. How many hours do you work every day?
A. 8 hrs per day 5 days a week

Q. Tell us something about the salary range in your work profile at various stages of your experience.
A. As a fresher 11 to 12 LPA, subsequently 16 to 18 LPA after switching

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Good growth potential can maintain work-life balance

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. Personal interest, the weekend is free, growth potential in all aspects

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. Good growth potential, lot of learning every day, supporting team

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. You have to stick to timelines

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. Not at all

Q. Finally, would you recommend a PG aspirant to take up MD Pharmacology today? Please give reasons for your answer.
A. Yes, in fact, I have motivated many new aspirants and they chose and are happy. Jobs are not a problem after completion, decent pay, can settle early than your clinical colleagues

Dr. Pratik P Wadivkar

Q. Tell us something about yourself.
A. Dr. VMGMC Solapur, 2016 Batch. Currently Medical Advisor with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals

Q. Why did you choose to do an MD Pharmacology course?
A. I wanted to have a greater impact on healthcare. So working in the Pharma sector was a natural choice for me.

Q. Present and past posts you held in industry and work profile
A. Medical Monitor. Medical Advisor.

Q. What kind of work do you routinely do at your office? (Your job description)
A. Providing Medical Support and insights to Marketing teams.

Q. How many hours do you work every day/week?
A. 70 hours/ week

Q. Tell us something about the salary range in your work profile at various stages of your experience.
A. For 2-3 years you can get 15 to 17 Lakhs per annum

Q. What is the Growth Potential in your job?
A. Good potential for competent candidates

Q. What was the reason for you to choose the industry job?
A. I always wanted to work in Pharma sector

Q. What are the positive aspects of your job?
A. You get to bring new drugs into the market.

Q. What are the negative aspects of your job?
A. No out time. Lots of traveling.

Q. If given an option back in time, would you choose any other branch than MD Pharmacology? If Yes, which and why?
A. No

Q. Finally, would you recommend a PG aspirant to take up MD Pharmacology today? Please give reasons for your answer.
A. Definitely. It’s a better option than going for a clinical branch that the candidate does not like.

Q. Any extra points you would like to share with our readers.
A. Work hard and network during MD. MD pharmacology curriculum is outdated and useless. Focus on developing your skillset for a particular job profile. Search for internships as well.

Final Thoughts

In short, I would not recommend anyone who wants to work as a clinician to do MD Pharmacology. Those who have an interest in corporate jobs and good salary packages are good candidates for MD Pharmacology.

3 thoughts on “MD Pharmacology Course: All You Need to Know

  1. Dr.Siva says:

    Thanks bro. This is what I want. Because I want the real feedback from the people who works in the industry, then only we get a clear idea about it.

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