Employee story

Safety Scientist at Roche - Meet Felix

Published: 2022.05.12.
Hi, my name is… 
Félix and I am French. I studied pharmacy in Strasbourg and first joined Roche back in 2013 for a six-month internship in the Safety Risk Management Department. This was the first time I had worked in the pharma industry, but it was also my first taste of pharmacovigilance, the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs. I was then offered a position in the same department as a post-graduate trainee in safety science and spent the next two years improving my understanding of pharmacovigilance. I eventually joined Roche as a fully-fledged safety scientist in 2016. In my free time, I enjoy trout fishing and through-hiking. I have set myself the ambitious goal of crossing the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean before I turn 35.   

What does my typical day look like?
When I tell people I am a safety scientist, many think that I work in a lab, analysing vials and pills to make sure the drugs we produce are safe. They are quite surprised when I say that I spend most of my time in front of a computer screen. As a safety scientist, I review all the data reported by patients, healthcare professionals or health authorities in clinical trials or in a post-marketing setting for a drug and analyse them to help the safety team decide whether the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks. Mostly this means studying a huge amount of data, such as an investigation to see whether we have enough (or any) proof of a drug’s role in an adverse event.

The location I work at is…
Basel. As I grew up just a few kilometres from the city, I already knew it quite well before I joined Roche. I always appreciated its manageable size – you can easily cross it by bike or walk to the city centre. But it is also easy to escape the city, with the Jura, the Vosges and the Black Forest so close.   

How does your job help improve patients’ lives?
My work helps Roche to monitor the safety profile of its drugs, but most importantly to be transparent and inform patients if a new safety concern is identified. It is also very rewarding to hear (sometimes even from friends or family) that someone has been treated successfully with the drug you are working on.   

Roche as an employer…
Gives people a chance and helps them in their own personal development. I have been given opportunities to further my education and be mentored by more experienced colleagues. Managers support the idea of rotations and there are many opportunities to explore other departments and/or activities; you just have to ask.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The recent approval of a drug I am working on in two paediatric indications and in pemphigus vulgaris (a severe autoimmune skin disorder), despite being marketed for more than 20 years. Having new indications approved for such an established drug is quite rare and to me this highlights Roche’s commitment towards helping patients.

What has been your biggest opportunity to date within Roche? 
The chance to start a career and gain on-the-job training.

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