The good people working in pharma don’t deserve the criticisms

KEY TAKEAWAY: Never has such a minority of executives been so responsible for the deterioration of morale and an exit of talent within an industry.  That sums up the current crisis in working in the pharmaceutical industry.

I have been working in the ethical pharma/medical device industry for over 17 years.  I have had the pleasure to work with some very talented people who really care about what they do and how their products impact patients.  However, their stories and voices are often silenced by an unrelenting media who loves to stir the flames of anger.

Last week Lilly announced that would be laying off 3500 people.  In the six years that I was with Lilly I worked with some of the most talented people in the industry.  I’m sorry to say that 95% of them are gone.  They have all moved on to great positions where their value is recognized,  Can any organization continue to thrive when they lose people like this?

I asked someone who worked at Gilead how she felt about the company.  Her response was candid “it’s full of arrogant people who think they walk on water”.  When I inquired about their pricing of the Hep-C drug that was purchased she said “that subject was taboo to discuss”.  How can they go to work fully well knowing that there are a lot of people who have Hep-C and can’t afford their drug?  How do the people working for Myriad feel about their price gouging and a CEO who still is getting paid millions for making huge mistakes?

Unfortunately our industry is being defined by the people who consistently make the wrong choices and put pharma in the crosshairs of an avenging media.

There are three other people in the consulting group I work  with.  They are all worked in pharma, but before they joined our group we went to great lengths to find out what motivated them to excel.  At the core of their values was a belief that the industry has done a lot of great things to help people live long, productive lives.  They are not unique.  I work with and have worked with a lot of people who really care about what they do and the patients their drugs treat.  They understand the social responsibility of our industry and try to “do what is right” versus what drives sales. Yet despite that the too many CEO’s still are slaves to Wall Street.

I am reminded of the unbranded website we were developing for cancer patients.  We had done over four months of research and had a winner in concept testing, but when a new VP came into the decision making, from sales, his decision to terminate the project because “it wouldn’t have any impact in driving sales” was, to say the least, disheartening and a wake up call.  Andy, of the senior people in our group said “unfortunately that’s the reality of pharma today, make more money and profit and think of patients last”.

Now to those of you reading this post you should know that there are a LOT of very good people working in the industry.  I work with them almost everyday and I know they really want to help patients, but it seems everytime someone gets higher on the corporate ladder they lose part of their heart,

Please don’t condemn a whole bunch of hard working people in our industry because a very small portion are total putz’s.  It’s unfair to them and unfair to patients who are helped by people who are helped by what we do.

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