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A picture of Zahra Khokher.What year did you graduate? 


What course did you study? 

Biomedical Science 

What is your current role? 

Pharmacovigilance Auditor/Quality Assurance Manager* 

Pharmacovigilance (PV) and Drug Safety are used interchangeably. It’s important to set the scene by defining PV. PV is defined as the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem. WHO established its Programme for International Drug Monitoring in response to the thalidomide disaster detected in 1961. 

How did you get into your current role? 

Soon after graduating I got into a PV role via a recruitment agency. Before I started my first PV role, the only time I had had heard of PV was during a couple of Pharmacology lectures at university. As I gained exposure of working in PV, I was fascinated by how pharmaceutical companies process and manage side effect reports, known as adverse event reports, and how they interact with patients and healthcare professionals to work towards keeping patients safe whilst they are taking their medicines. 

Can you describe a typical day? 

Every day is different! When onsite conducting an audit, the whole day consists of back-back interviews with intensive document review sessions between interviews and during lunch too. When offsite, a morning could consist of training colleagues on new legislation and company procedures, followed by an afternoon of audit report writing. 

What do you enjoy about your role? 

I enjoy visiting different companies and seeing how they operate with the flexibility of working from home. 

What do you find challenging in your current role? 

Time constraints. From conducting an audit to finalising the audit report, a lot of communication takes place between the auditor and auditees, as well as input from colleagues to peer review the audit report. All of these activities need to be completed to tight timelines. 

What advice would you give to a current student at St George’s who is keen to get into a similar area of work as you? 

Sign up with recruitment agencies who specialise in hiring for roles in the pharmaceutical industry. 

Which aspects of your degree are relevant for your current role? 

The theory I learnt throughout my degree has been useful whilst working on analysing the safety profile of medicines. The skills gained from problem-based learning, group work and practicals has been valuable when working independently and when in a team. 

Do you have any advice or a message for current students at St George’s? 

Whilst studying, make time to volunteer and/or work part-time. When selecting candidates for a job role, companies want to see well rounded individuals, not just academics. 

* Zahra is currently on a career break and is enjoying making memories with her two young sons during their early years. 


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