A Master of Science course in pharmaceutical medicine, originally set up for Pfizer employees in collaboration with Hibernia College in Ireland, is to be extended to include candidates employed by other pharmaceutical companies.

The course, most of which is carried out online, is said to be the only one of its type in the world, and aims to provide a systematic understanding of the drug development process from the initial discovery of a new chemical entity right though to regulatory approval and commercialisation of the product. It has been developed in association with the faculty at Harvard University and Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons.

Modules covered include leadership and creativity; drug discovery; clinical pharmacology and drug development; clinical trials, statistics and data management; safety and risk management and regulatory affairs.

Explaining the rationale for setting up the MSc course, Dr Nicholas Breakwell of Hibernia College said that the world of drug development is changing, with product concepts no longer limited to creating new drugs but also helping to define new markets and meet medical needs.

“This requires a comprehensive understanding of the pharmaceutical industry from target compound discovery to patient access. In addition, technology and business practices grow more sophisticated by the day and companies rely on the expertise of their staff and their excellence in business conduct to maintain their competitive edge.”

Despite this, medical schools around the world have generally not prepared physicians and other related professionals to function as effective leaders in the challenging pharmaceutical industry scene.

Few post-graduate courses in pharmaceutical medicine are available in Europe or the USA. The Hibernia College online course is the first of its kind to offer a global reach.

The next course begins in early October 2006 with an induction session followed by a week long onsite module at Harvard University. For more information, visit www.hiberniacollege.net.