Pharmaceutical Medicine in Switzerland
This article presents a global view on the Pharmaceutical Medicine specialty and, in particular, the role of pharmaceutical physicians working in Switzerland. These days, the professional environment for pharmaceutical physicians is changing significantly. Political debates on regulating human research and financing the healthcare system currently dominate the reality of pharmaceutical physicians. This changing environment contrasts with the high regulation of the medical profession, including Pharmaceutical Medicine, in Switzerland.
From post-graduate training to continued medical education, the Pharmaceutical Medicine specialty is governed by Swiss law and a number of respective ordinances, and is overseen by the Swiss Institute of Post-Graduate Training and Continued Medical Education. The post-graduate training programme lasts 5 years and is divided into 2 years of clinical work in any specialty, and 3 years of specific post-graduate training. The practical part of the post-graduate training is performed at training centres that can be located in Clinical Trial Units of university hospitals, affiliates of global pharmaceutical companies or other institutions working in the field of Pharmaceutical Medicine. The theoretical part of the post-graduate training has to cover a total of at least 360 hours, and is based on parallel vocational courses. For example, this training can be obtained at the European Center of Pharmaceutical Medicine in Basel, Switzerland, which offers a comprehensive course programme covering all relevant topics of Pharmaceutical Medicine.
The development of pharmaceuticals, and clinical research as the core area, is the predominant training topic and working field for pharmaceutical physicians. The Swiss Society of Pharmaceutical Medicine is the professional body representing pharmaceutical physicians within the umbrella organization, the Swiss Medical Association. There are a number of societies, associations and other organizations supporting clinical research in Switzerland. There are links to the Swiss Association of Pharmaceutical Professionals representing nonmedical specialists, and there is a clear intention to intensify the collaboration with the Swiss Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology. The Swiss Clinical Trial Organization has been established to foster the quality of clinical research in all medical disciplines and to support the newly created Clinical Trial Units, which are located in six university and cantonal hospitals. Since the international competitiveness of Switzerland as a research location is essential for the country, collaborative efforts by all stakeholders, including specialists in Pharmaceutical Medicine, are necessary to address the numerous challenges related to clinical research.