“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs said this and right now pharma could use a lot of rebels.
While being interviewed by a reporter for an article on pharma she asked me a pointed question “why do most pharma companies encompass so many characteristics that people find troublesome?”. The answer to that is complicated but here are my thoughts:
1ne: Pharma does not like to hire rebels . Pharma’s hiring process is outdated and myopic. Hiring managers want someone who can both fit in and “just do the job”. They’re afraid of people who would change the company culture to put the focus back on people instead of numbers.
2wo: Pharma people tell themselves lies. The people at Gilead were great at justifying the cost of the Hep-C treatment at $1000 a pill. They lied to themselves saying “it’s cheaper than a liver transplant” but ignored the fact that even today, many can’t afford the treatment while their CEO takes home $90 million a year.
3hree: I need my paycheck. Yes, there are good, hard working people within pharma, but they are vastly outnumbered by “status quo” people. Amgen, for example, purged the people who asked too many questions and focused on patients with people whose common vision was “sell more”.
4our: People who consider themselves rebels are avoiding pharma like a meeting with Trump. They see pharma as too conservative and process heavy and don’t want to spend their time in back to back meetings all day.
5ive: They’re afraid of change. Other than open office has pharma really changed that much in the last 10 years? No except for the fact that they could care less what the public thinks.
6ix: Legal and regulatory have too much power and are better at saying “no” than working with marketing to say “yes”.
What does all this mean? It means that pharma feels that “we need them more than they needs us” and that they will do whatever it takes to feed the Wall Street the numbers they want in order to keep stock prices high and CEO compensation at insulting levels.
The rebels within pharma cannot be silent like the public when our President steps all over the Constitution. They need to be willing to risk their jobs to bring about a better more responsive company. CEO’s who earn way too much money need to be replaced by people who understand that while pharma is a business how we market and price our products could mean life or death for some people.