Passing the trash

I’ve seen some new energy and thinking taking root in some big pharma companies. Still, I’m also seeing some recycled executives show up at other companies when they should have been removed permanently from the industry.

John worked for a division of a major pharma company in Cambridge. He came from the salesforce, and his mentality was simple; marketing supports sales. When he sent some journal articles to the salesforce without first getting approval from legal and regulatory, he got in trouble, but it wasn’t enough to replace him. Later on, someone in finance noticed that his expense reports had missing receipts, and some expenses were not authorized. When she brought it up to HR, the VP immediately went to the President, and John was asked to leave. He then wound up at another biotech company in Cambridge as a VP.

Throughout my career, I have seen a lot of “recycled” evil executives starting new jobs at smaller companies who are anxious for their so-called “expertise” when they should be banned from the industry. Look back at stories when companies were caught doing illegal activities, and in all likelihood, you can trace it to one individual who thought they could do whatever they wanted. They should be banned from working in pharma, plain and simple.

Most of us agree that the industry tends to be over-regulated, but I’ve never seen anyone say, “the hell with legal and regulatory review, let’s do it.” I have seen people try to push the envelope by working with their review teams to implement initiatives. Small companies that hire people who were either disgraced trying to “sell” insufficient data or fired for going around the system should be ashamed of themselves.

About five years ago, I was recruited to be the lead on establishing a digital marketing department at a biotech that had received approval for their drug by the FDA. Their stock was doing very well, and they were hiring many people. At first, I was very excited, but as I checked the backgrounds of some of the people, I found a lot of question marks. I did some more research and didn’t hear anything good about the person I would have been reporting to. One Director told me she would “rather go on unemployment than work for her.” I turned the job offer down and now executives are bailing left and right as the FDA has started to question some of their data.

An industry is only as good as the people who are in it. There are many very good people within our industry, but there are also some bad apples like any other industry. We need the stop recycling them in hopes they will suddenly find a conscious. Healthcare will have change forced on it, and only people ready for it will succeed.