Is the pharma organization prepared for the future?

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Besides pricing, more changes to healthcare are coming. Physicians have more of a say about the drugs they recommend to patients, and they don’t want cherry-picked data; they want ALL the data. Is pharma ready to act with transparency and speed?

As I was listening to an ad board on the new diet drugs, questions kept coming up about the drug’s long-term use and additional side effects. The executive summary stated, “the brand has to do a better job providing complete data to prescribers.” When that point was mentioned to the brand team leader, it was met with silence. He would later say that data doesn’t exist as of yet.

It’s in the drug company’s best interests to get drugs to market quickly because the patent clock is ticking. However, physicians are data hungry, and they don’t want just “the good data”; they want it all.

Those who have worked in the drug industry understand that nothing gets done without scheduling meetings, often without critical stakeholders. This delays much-needed information and makes HCPs suspicious. The sad part is that the drug industry hasn’t done anything to correct its organizational issues.

Two months ago, I was asked to provide new images for a diabetes product website. I offered over three dozen, along with my recommendations and rationale. I never expected that it would take five weeks of meetings and reviews to choose the images. The manager I was working with apologized for the long delay, but when she told me they wanted to do some research on the photos, I bowed out. I have never, ever heard anyone say they left a drug product website because of the pictures, but here was a top pharma company making something easy and overly complicated.

So, let’s get to the point: drug companies are NOT prepared to act quickly and efficiently. They have bloated departments with people wanting to sit at the table to justify their jobs. Almost ten years ago, Accenture published a research paper that said pharma is their own worst enemy. Unfortunately, nothing has changed since that paper was published.

Trust in pharma is at an all-time low, and as a result, DTC marketing is less effective. Patients talk to their healthcare provider, and appointments can take months or weeks. When I asked my doctor about Mounjaro, she tried to talk me out of it and recommended diet and exercise. I didn’t want the Rx but wanted to hear what she had to say. She went on to tell me that insurance would not cover it and that it could cause nasty GI side effects. Judging from the ad board I attended, this happens often, and analysts still keep talking about mega-blockbuster status.

Healthcare has to change because the current rate of costs is unsustainable for politicians who want to cut budgets. PBMs are being scrutinized, and the drug industry seems to acknowledge that new drugs can’t command six-figure pricing. But what of the bloated and slow organization? That’s going to change, and it’s not going to be pretty. It means layoffs in the thousands and an industry trying to react faster to market their products to people who need them.