The importance of pharmaceutical statistics
We all fall ill from time to time. What do you do when you are feeling unwell (apart from grin and bear it)? Probably you go to, or arrange a visit by, your doctor or a nurse, or maybe you go to the local pharmacy. You tell them your symptoms, and they may then prescribe some medication that should make you better. But have you ever thought about how they know that the medication is likely to make you better, and that it shouldn't harm you through having side-effects?
The answer to all these questions lies in the pharmaceutical industry, and of course in the drug regulatory authorities. It is the pharmaceutical industry that carries out extensive trials to address issues of effectiveness (often called "efficacy") of medications and to look for any associated problems that might arise. The industry is continually seeking to improve existing medications and to find new ones, including those for conditions that currently have no known cure. All of this research and development work involves carefully designed experiments and clinical trials, while the regulatory authorities also stipulate that trials of various kinds must be carried out. This is where the pharmaceutical statistician comes in. The statistician designs the experiments and trials, analyses the data and interprets the results so that health care professionals can have the necessary information at their fingertips when they need it.
The pharmaceutical industry is a successful and rapidly growing world-wide industry. It contributes significantly to the economies of the many countries all round the world where it is located, both as a major employer and as an export earner. Its continuing success rests on it rising to the many and diverse challenges faced in today's health care sector. Pharmaceutical statisticians are at the forefront in meeting many of these challenges; they have a vital role to play in the health care of the entire population.