The following is taken from several PMs that I've sent out to people who have asked for some details on how I got into pharma. Here is my background briefly: MD at a well respected state school, 2 yrs Gen surgery residency followed by 3 yrs Family Practice. Have now been working in pharma for the last 6 years. The pharma world for MDs is sharply divided into two camps: 1) Business 2) Research & Development (R&D). The business camp is devoted to the commercialization, marketing and sales of pharma products once they hit the market. In the business side of pharma, most are people with MBA degrees. There are very few MDs or MD/MBAs. The reason is that it is much more expensive to hire a MD/MBA than just a newly minted ivy league MBA. Physicians who enter this area are relatively few. The R&D camp deals entirely with compounds before they get approved. Within Pharma R&D there are many different divisions that physicians work in: Drug Safety: Physicians here work to monitor spontaneous adverse events coming in from the field and to monitor overall general trends. Physicians who work here generally have experience with epidemiology (most are generalists FP, IM, Pediatrics, etc) Clinical Pharmacology: Physicians in this area generally work on compounds that are being tested in humans for the first time. This is known as Phase I. The goal here is to establish that the compound is safe in small numbers of healthy volunteers. Typical kinds of trials done in Phase I are: maximum tolerated dose, bioequivalence, bioavailability, drug-drug interaction. The physicians who work in this area generally have done a clinical pharmacology fellowship or have experience working in a clin pharm unit along with general medical training (Internal medicine, FP, etc). Clinical Development: This is known as Phase II and Phase III. The goal of this phase is to ensure that the drug is effective. The trials are larger and involve patients with the disease of interest. Now the pharma companies need physicians with particular expertise in the disease state to run the trials. The therapeutic areas with the most number of drugs in development are (in order): Oncology, CNS, Cardiovascular, Endocrine/diabetes, Infectious Disease. Within CNS, the greatest need is for physicians with experience in the development of neurology, psychiatry and pain compounds. The pain world is currently shared by anesthesiologists, and rheumatologists. So someone like you who is trained as an anesthesiologist/pain specialist would be useful. The sponsor (pharma) physicians hire investigators around the world in clinics/hospitals to recruit patients into their trials. The pharma physicians write the protocols, specify how the results should be analyzed and submit the results to the FDA. For examples of ongoing Phase II/III trials goto http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Medical affairs/Phase IV: After a drug is approved, then it is handed over to this group. The goal of trials in this phase is to further delineate and establish the market. This area is weighted heavily towards marketing/sales instead of pure science. Physicians who work in this area are also specialists, similar to Phase 3 (Clinical development) above. Now the biggest caveat about the pharma industry is that it is very, very, very difficult to get a job without having direct prior pharma experience. So if you've never worked on a clinical drug trial, or have worked for a pharma company then it will be very difficult to get your foot in the door. There are many arcane rules and regulations that apply in the pharma industry and it is not generally taught in medical school or residency. If your long-term goal is to get a job in the industry then there are several ways you can gain experience: 1) Do a fellowship in any of the high demand specialities: oncology, cardiology, GI, neurology and psychiatry. 2) Volunteer to be a physician at a clinical research center near you. Goto http://www.centerwatch.org. Then peruse by patient listings and trial type. You will be able to find investigators in your area that are doing trials. You may want to call them and ask if you can volunteer and learn the ropes. After a year or so of working as a doc in one of these centers, you will have enough experience to be considered for pharma MD jobs. 3) Consider the FDA. The FDA hires lots of people right out of their fellowships. After a year or two at the FDA you could write your own ticket. The pay at the FDA is somewhat sub-par (ie 130-140 range) but you'd only have to do it for a short time. Now everyone always asks me what the pay range. The range of course varies with the company, but in general, here is what you can expect (all of these positions usually get offered stock options, vesting over a 3-5 year period). Assistant Director (0-2 yrs experience) $130K-140K + 10-15% yearly bonus Associate Director (2-4 yrs experience) $145K-165K + 15-20% yearly bonus Director (5-10 yrs experience) $175K-$225K + 30-50% yearly bonus Sr Director (10-15 yrs experience) $250K-$275K + 75-100% yearly bonus Vice President (15 yrs + experience) $300K and above + executive bonus package Sr Vice President $400K-$500K + 100-200% bonus The top most physician at my company makes $675K base salary plus an executive bonus package and stock options. This is all publicly available information. As you can see, the pay can be quite nice, especially at higher levels. Keep in mind however, that competition for these top spots is quite intense. Only a few dozen physicians ever make it to the top-top levels of corporate pharma. If you were a cardiologist however, then the pay at the lower levels is far lower than what you'd make out in private practice. Stock options can also be quite a windfall if you join a company at the right time. In my case, I have never made any money off stock options just because of bad timing. There are several mid-level managers at my current company who are millionaires just because they joined the company at the right time and sold their options.