Failed leadership in pharma

KEY TAKEAWAY: While pharma continues to take a lot of heat for their silence over a damning health care bill and high drug prices we also have to remember that there are many unheard voices who are trying to be heard in a culture that thrives on conformity. 

Over the course of the year I have worked with a lot of very good people within the pharma industry.  They understand the importance of being patient centric and trying to help people evaluate treatment options, but no matter how loud they get there seems to be people, within the company, who reign them in to focus on sales, and only sales.

Why is this happening?  Very simple: failed leadership.  As long as pharma CEO’s are compensated on how the stock performs sales will always be the ultimate barometer of any pharma marketing program.

Late last year our group was working on developing a site for newly diagnosed cancer patients and caregivers.  We had the support of two biotech companies in Cambridge and had completed research to clearly identify a lot of opportunities.  The website concepts that we developed tested very well as cancer patients don’t fully understand the treatments they are receiving.  Unfortunately, one of the biotech companies was bought and the other is being acquired. The project is now dead in the water.  When we approached the new owners all they wanted to know is “what’s the ROI for our company?”.

This is the kind of thinking that is dooming pharma companies and silencing the voices of employees who understand the importance of helping patients navigate today’s healthcare. Yet the people we worked with had a deep sense of empathy for newly diagnosed patients and understood how important it was to help understand treatments.

What most pharma CEO’s don’t get is that by remaining silent and using PR talking points when it comes to high drug prices they are not only driving away patients and HCP’s they are alienating their employees.

To the employees who are fighting the battle everyday to become more patient focused I salute you and say keep on moving forward because in the end the reward will be worth the battle scars.