UK medical affairs hiring highest in three years, Switzerland slips

May 27, 2021 | Life Sciences, News

Vacancies for UK medical affairs professionals in Q1 2021, following two consecutive months of decline at the end of 2020, picked up and finished the first quarter with a monthly hiring level not seen in at least three years — according to data from Cpl Life Sciences and Vacancysoft. 

Life sciences firms in Britain published 245 senior vacancies for medical affairs specialists in Q1 2021, 42.4% higher than the same quarter a year earlier. That’s also 27.6% more than Q4 2020, the previous record-holder with 192 vacancies. 

In Switzerland, meanwhile, 64 vacancies were published in Q1, the lowest level for over three years and 13.5% down compared to the previous quarter. Hiring levels in Basel and Zug in 2020 fell by 33.1% and 43.9%, respectively, year-on-year. 

Cpl Life Sciences CEO, Yvette Cleland, says: “Medical affairs is central to the success of biopharma companies as healthcare becomes more complex, specialised and global. It continues its metamorphosis in tandem with the global shift towards evidence-based care. 

“Its growing importance in generating value, particularly as medicines are more targeted and personalised, and the evidence base becomes more nuanced, present new challenges for the function to play a more strategic biopharma role.” 


The highest year-on-year growth in medical affairs vacancies came from IQVIA, which recently said that its global medicine spend (excl. covid-19 vaccines) will grow 3-6% through 2025. European hiring levels at the multinational in 2020 were +212.6% year-on-year. 

Bristol Myers-Squibb (+274%) and J&J (+103.6%) also experienced increased recruitment for medical affairs specialists last year. NovoNordisk and Abbvie, meanwhile, made the swiftest starts in 2021, already publishing 87.5% and 58% of their 2020 totals.


Hiring in the UK was generally resilient during the pandemic, with London (+7.9%) and the East of England (+6.1%) experiencing year-on-year growth in 2020. 

However, recruitment in the region with traditionally the most number of medical affairs vacancies, the South East, fell by 9.1% year-on-year. This meant that the region’s share of overall hiring fell from 40.1% in 2019 to 34.7% in 2020.

  • The data for this article is taken from a Vacancysoft and Cpl Life Sciences report on medical affairs scientists, available here.
  • Need labour market data to enhance a story or report? Contact Vacancysoft’s Communications team on +44 (0) 207 193 8990.

[Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash]

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