Big pharma: its own worst enemy

KEY TAKEAWAY: As big pharma gets bigger, the one challenge they have mastered is the reduction in administrative burdens they place on managers and employees.

Big pharma getting bigger. It’s a story of ensuring that profits continue in an era of difficult drug discovery. There are two downsides to acquisitions. First, they have to be paid for, which means higher drug prices, and second, it means more administrative time for employees in meetings and conference calls.

Look at any pharma managers calendar, and you’re likely to see a schedule of back to back meetings. Field salespeople and MLS people are also inundated with mandatory training and conference calls that limit productivity. With so much time being devoted to administrative tasks when do people have the time to add value to patients?

The problem is only going to get worse as more pharma companies merge and try to best manage the new organization without losing valuable insights and drug development. In this author’s opinion, it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing massive layoffs in the pharma sector as they see employees as adding to cost.

Then there are the billions of dollars spent buying smaller companies. Wall Street will demand that pharma companies continue to show profits and to do so most companies are going to have price drugs at a premium. Now keep in mind that health care is leading the list of possible topics Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents want to hear the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates talk about during their upcoming debates, with nearly nine in ten (87 percent) saying it is very important for candidates to talk about health care. 

Why aren’t administrative tasks being eliminated?

It’s simple. CEO’s are compensated on one thing: stock price. To hire a CEO who is forward thinking and realizes that the organization is going to have to change is not in the shareholders best interests.

It’s common when asking people why they haven’t been able to analyze their marketing, for them to say “I haven’t had the time.” Indeed many people;e are just trying to survive new complex organizational charts with their jobs intact.

Then there are the endless training classes on how to manage people. These classes can take days or weeks depending on the power of HR executives who feel it’s better to take people away from their jobs and sit in a classroom for two days.

Pharma continues to be its own worst enemy when it comes to a robust organization that acts with speed based on analysis. It’s likely to continue as employees spend more time in meetings to discuss trivial changes that should be done by one person.

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