Cold reality of working in pharma

UnknownKEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma companies face many challenges but perhaps the biggest threat to improved performance is the continued loss of caring, passionate employees who want to make a difference in patients’ lives.

There are a lot of very good, hard working people within the pharma industry, but unfortunately they often learn, the hard way, that the industry can be a very cold experience.   Here are some examples..

1ne: A smaller biotech company is acquired by a top ten pharma company.  One business unit, whose sales have almost doubled, looks to be a rising star within the new organization, but three weeks after the acquisition the VP of the division bales out leaving the people within the group alone.  Later, it’s announced that the business unit is going to be run like all other brands and that significant layoffs are going to occur.  The VP who left takes a job as CEO of another company.


2wo: A CEO announces layoffs of almost 700 people and says “it was a difficult” decision, but the next day he is on vacation in Southern France.

3hree: A hard working marketing manager is recruited by an upcoming new biotech company whose product is really taking off. He relocates, out of state, to take the opportunity, but after three weeks there he finds that one of his direct reports is having an affair with the VP of Sales, who is married, and that the company had been in talks to be acquired.  When he confronts his hiring Director he learns that he has resigned and is going to another company. Two months later, after the Director is gone, most of the people in the company have left and he winds up reporting to someone in accounting before being told his job is being eliminated.


I wish that I could say these are isolated incidents, but I hear stories like this all the time.  Pharma usually tries to minimize the work environment by enticing people with high salaries, but pharma hasn’t learned that you can’t make people work for money alone – you starve their souls when you try it, and you can starve a company to death the same way.

What good companies are learning is that the better you treat your people the better they treat you.  When a CEO’s first responsibility is to Wall Street and the balance sheet employees are an afterthought.  If pharma is to overcome the challenges it faces it had better start looking at its people and find a way to keep good, hard working, passionate employees.

1 thought on “Cold reality of working in pharma

  1. Addendum:
    As long as pharma’s objective is “money” (=sales), working there will be a chilly job. In addition working in pharma can hardly be more than a fully exchangeable / replaceable job. Just as their products are.

    What a waste of talent.

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