The pharma organization of the future

KEY TAKEAWAY:  Organizations have to adapt to meet the new challenges in the marketplace, but pharma companies pretty much do business the same way since the turn of the century.  Bigger is not better and matrix management can only add needless time and waste resources.  

I was working in pharma as we entered this new century and the changes to the industry were pronounced.  Pharma companies realized that big money could be made marketing new drugs like Lipitor, which became a billion dollar cash cow.  Soon others were trying to climb on board the cash express with heavy selling and they became addicted to billion dollar drugs as Wall Street rewarded them with high stock prices and lavish CEO compensation packages.  Unfortunately, that model is based on the past, not the current environment or the future.

Despite all the negativity aimed at the pharma industry around high prices and CEO’s who believe Wall Street are their customers there are still a lot of very good people in the industry. However, they are a minority.  Too many others have sold their souls for lavish paychecks and hide their heads when the company they work for does the unthinkable.

Although there are a couple of CEO’s trying to change their company culture they are a minority.  Here are some things I believe pharma companies need to do to get better:

1ne: Get lean: Examine all processes and departments and eliminate the ones that don’t add value to the customer.

2wo: Retain talent: Too many organizations lay people off when drugs come off patent or a new potential drug fails in clinical trials.  It’s business, I get that, but what’s happening is that the people being let go are often some of the best performers.  Too many decisions are made on organizational “politics” rather than experience and value.

3hree: Change the DTC model from “selling” to helping and engaging patients .  Marketers need a sense of empathy to understand just how hard it is for people to enter our screwed up health care system.

4our: Wanted CEO: Pharma CEO’s need to be real leaders and instill a sense of purpose, beyond financial compensation.

5ive: Look up the word transparency.

6ix: Employee satisfaction: P L E A S E! Stop with the open offices.  Employees hate them and they do NOT foster an atmosphere of open communication.  Your campus should be a place that encourages people to think outside the box and get more creative.  Develop a great work environment and people will be lining up to work there.

7even: Stop hiring sales people right out of college and sending them out on calls like trained robots.  How much research do you need to show that pharma sales people are becoming less effective?

8ight: Finally, find a way to get drugs to people who can’t afford them without a deep layer of bureaucracy.

Quite a list, but that’s why pharma CEO’s earn the big bucks.  Too many are only interested in their stock prices and that has to change.  You can’t serve two masters.

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