Pharma is obsessed with dominating

  • Companies that live in such a zero-sum world don’t “earn market share” from a competitor, they “conquer the market.” 
  • They don’t just serve their customers, they “capture” them and they don’t treat them like customers.
  • It’s easier to buy competitors than invest in R&D now.

The business world is obsessed with fighting and winning and dominating and destroying. This ethos turns business leaders into tiny Napoleons. It’s not enough for them to merely put their dent in the universe. No, they have to fucking own the universe. This is especially true as pharma companies climb all over each other to become the top pharma company and please investors.

It really shouldn’t matter if you’re 2 percent of the market or 4 percent or 75 percent. What matters is that you have a healthy business with sound economics that works for you. Costs under control, profitable sales, nappy patients and marketing drugs that really make a difference that people can afford.

But let’s lot be naive. It’s not about patients it’s about Wall Street, stock prices and making boatloads of money.

The stupidity of setting sales goals

Goals are fake. Nearly all of them are artificial targets set for the sake of setting targets or pleasing investors or VC’c. 

Why are goals fake? “Because (1) it’s disingenuous for you to pretend you care about a number you just made up, and (2) because you shouldn’t be willing to make the cultural compromises it’ll take to get there.”

Chasing goals often leads companies to compromise their morals, honesty, and integrity to reach those fake numbers. This in turn has led to record fines for pharma as they are caught violating current laws by trying to achieve sales targets by lying. The best intentions slip when you’re behind. Need to improve margins by a few points? Let’s turn a blind eye to quality for a while. Need to find another $800,000 this quarter to hit that number? Let’s raise the price again because we on blame it on PBM’s.

Can a pharma company have low single-digit growth, make a good profit, serve their customers well and make employees happy. The answer is yes but then the financial websites and publications would all throw a hissy fit. Today you need to make more money than yesterday and until that disease is cured pharma will continue to put sales as their number one priority.

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