What Does a Pharmaceutical Technical Writer Do?
A pharmaceutical technical writer prepares medical documentation such as instruction guides, precautions for medications, manuals, and reference guides.
Pharmaceutical technical writing is a specialized field. It requires much more attention to prepare pharmaceutical documentation in comparison to writing any generic SOP document.
In usual circumstances, chemists find it challenging to write tech documentation, and the same is the case with biologists and microbiologists. The dire requirement of medical documentation mirrors the need for technical writers in the pharmaceutical industry.
According to Glassdoor’s salary estimate, a pharma technical writer has an average salary estimate of $78k per year. The salaries range from $37k-$178k according to different companies with an average of $78k.
In this article, we will look up to duties of the pharmaceutical technical writer. Let’s dive right in.
Pharmaceutical Technical Writer Role and Responsibilities
A pharmaceutical tech writer leads and handles the development of technical documentation in a pharmaceutical company.
Documentation includes preparing clinical study reports, standard operating procedures, and test scripts. Here’s the list of duties a pharmaceutical writer is responsible for:
1. Assessing the Creation of Procedural Documents
Tech writers in pharmaceutical companies are primarily responsible to research how updating and assessing procedural technical documents influence other technical documentation.
2. Identify SMEs and Partners
Pharm tech writers work on identifying the small and medium enterprise partners. Likewise, they also ensure that SMEs take an active part in developing the technical content during the revisions and after approval cycles.
3. Prepares Procedural Documents
Writers in the pharmaceutical industry are responsible to lead the technical writing of medications. It requires collaboration with SME(s) and manufacturing process managers. They translate complex technical information to easy material, process maps. Likewise, they cross-check the preventive actions, inspection commitments, and process deviations. This collaboration addresses any critical gaps in medicine manufacturing and documentation.
4. Overviews Process Mapping Activities
Pharmaceutical writers collect details of manufacturing processes like boundaries, scopes, process inputs, process outputs, and sequences. They also facilitate these technical process mappings, thus allowing the identification of wastes and bottlenecks. Through the visualization of data flowcharts, they devise methods to minimize waste and redundancies.
5. Incorporates Reviews into Documentation
Tech writers in the medical industry incorporate the feedback and reviews obtained from higher documentation roles. They work on improving the documentation through these reviews and ensure zero redundancy in complex information.
6. Collaborate with Managers
Pharmaceutical tech writers collaborate with quality managers to ensure the content is according to the company’s SOPs and standards. They cross-check the content and ensure that information aligns with the company’s technical writing principles and content standards.
7. Maintains Work Schedule
Pharma writers maintain work schedules. Tech writers mitigate and identify any risk issues in the project procurement.
They also support any process implementations and collaborate with change managers and global training managers for development.
8. Prepares Medical User Guides
Just like any other technical writer, the pharmacy writers prepare medical reference guides and medical equipment user manuals. These duties demand high expertise and medical knowledge along with strong attention to detail.
9. Updates their Medical Knowledge
As advancements are crucial, writers in pharmaceutical companies update their medical knowledge to sustain their credibility.
10. Prepares Marketing Documents
As the drugs are targeted at consumers and health professionals, a drug writer is responsible to write the documentation and marketing content by keeping in view the audience’s expertise.
In addition to that, a technical writer also writes business presentations and breaks down the complex information into plainer languages to inform health care professionals about the advantages of a certain drug.
Sometimes, a technical writer in the medical industry also develops website content, newsletters, and other marketing information.
The day-to-day tasks can vary, but these are some of the generic duties of pharma technical writers.
What are the Skills of a Pharmaceutical Technical Writer?
A technical writer in the pharmaceutical industry should understand the sophisticated pieces of information to convey its plain meaning to a diversified audience. Here are some skills of a pharmacy tech writer:
- Translate complex information into lean and digestible pieces of content
- Familiarity with process mapping tools like Microsoft Visio
- Good verbal and written language skills
- Skillful to write sophisticated processes into the informational and explanatory style of text
- Know-how of process improvement and procedural documentation rules
- Good at problem-solving skills
- Collaboration and team working skills
- Optimal communication skills with diverse departments
- Skillful to draft documentation from the provided templates and drafts
- Familiarity with official drug association rules and regulations
Employers prefer a BS degree in a related field. According to a pharmacy tech writer's latest job alert by Simply Hired, 5-6 years of pharmaceutical industry technical writing experience is good along with a BS degree, while 4 years of experience is appreciable along with a Master’s degree in the related field.
If you are applying to a technical writing job alert, make sure you fulfill the minimum and preferred qualification and writing skills criteria.
Check out our top-rated technical writing course to master the mandatory technical writing skills. It is a beginner friendly course that promises exceptional learning outcomes along with the fundamental knowledge required to become an expert technical writer.
What are SOPs for Pharmaceutical Technical Writing?
Pharmaceutical writing is challenging as this field requires a continuous update of knowledge to sustain credibility. There are some rules specified for regulatory writing. Here are those rules:
1. Work on clarity
As the pharmaceutical documentation aim for different audiences, make sure the information serves the purpose for each reader. Avoid words like often, several, few, recently, usually as these words are vague and can interpret different meanings for different readers.
2. Improve Document Design
Document formatting is a crucial step in pharmaceutical documentation. Check whether there are huge chunks of text or not. If any, then divide those chunks into digestible pieces of text.
Make use of various headings and sub-headings and draw attention to text with the use of tables and figures.
Conciseness is the level of understanding of the text for the readers. In pharmaceutical writing, the information is crucial and can be fatal if delivered in the wrong way. Focus on the conciseness of text to make the pharmaceutical drugs information clear to both consumers and health professionals. Write in simple and catchable words. Do not present any challenges to the audience and use plain language.
Prevent passive voice and prepositional text. In addition, use an active voice tone to keep the subject always at the beginning of a sentence.
4. Know Your Audience
In pharmaceutical writing, audience identification is the first step of documentation. Find out whether the audience is drug consumers, health care professionals, or other industries. After that, draft the content by considering the audience’s expertise.
Define highly technical terms, abbreviations, and synonyms at the start of documentation for easy digestion. Align pharmacy documentation with your company’s content standards. Pay close attention to the accuracy of the content.
Pharmaceutical tech writers are responsible to write medical user guides, reference guides, and drug-associated manuals.
Normal duties of a pharm tech writer involve the assessment and creation of medical procedural technical documents, identification of SME(s) and business partners, preparation of procedural documentation, an overview of process mapping activities, and knowing the incorporation of feedback into the work. Work duties involve collaboration with quality managers, maintaining project consistency, and continuously up-leveling their pharmacy knowledge.
A pharmacy technical writer must follow the company’s SOPs and rules for pharmacy content. They must be skillful with process mapping tools and have good written and verbal communication skills. Many employers appreciate the skills to write complex information into easily digestible pieces of text in the form of reports.
Thus, the requirement is at least a bachelor's or master's degree to become a pharmacy tech writer. It is also necessary to continuously update your writing skills and knowledge.
If you are new to technical writing and are looking to break in, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course, where you will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He is considered one of the top product influencers in the world by Product School and one of the top technical writers. He has been writing software tutorials, manuals, handbooks, and white papers for over eight years. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.