Regulatory Science Program offers students opportunity to ensure safety of health products, drugs

Courtesy of USC Regulatory Science

by Brenda Lee

Students aiming for a career in the biomedical industry or pharmacy may find the Regulatory Science Program at the USC School of Pharmacy tailored to their needs.

“Regulatory science is a good program for those who are ambitious because you can reach high positions through strategy,” said Dr. Frances Richmond, Director of Regulatory Science Programs and Professor of Clinical Pharmacy.

The Regulatory Science program at USC offers a Master of Science as well as five certificate programs: Clinical Research Design and Management, Patient and Product Safety, Food Safety, Preclinical Drug Development, and Regulatory and Clinical Affairs. In fall 2008, USC also began offering a professional doctorate.

As the program titles hint, this profession is involved in the “gate-keeping” or the quality managing and marketing of health products and drugs.

When a drug is produced, individuals from regulatory science investigate, examine, and perform animal and clinical trials on products to ensure their safety and to translate this information for the FDA. Once the products are readied and put out on the market, regulatory scientists work to keep them on the market.

One difference between obtaining the Master’s and the doctorate is salary. When an individual first graduates with a Master’s, the standard salary is about $50-$60,000 per year. With a doctorate, the range goes up to$70-$90,000.

“After 2-3 years, you become very valuable with experience,” Richmond said. “Promotions are usually not far in sight. At the manager level, the salary is $80,000-100,000. Directors earn $150,000 a year, and vice presidents may even be paid up to $200,000 a year.”

However, higher positions require more critical decisions and heavier responsibilities.
“People self-select their level depending on the trade-offs and their desired lifestyles,” Richmond said.

Pharmacy students may consider getting a dual degree in regulatory science because while pharmacists earn a relatively high and stable salary, people with careers in regulatory science start with lower salaries but can climb through the levels and advance their salaries to higher rates.

According to Richmond, regulatory science is a prime opportunity for individuals with biological, pharmaceutical and biomedical background interested in industry, management, and policy as it is an emerging profession that is rapidly expanding and growing.
“[T]here’s a huge future for [regulatory science],” Richmond said.

Students interested in learning more about Regulatory Science can find additional info here.

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