KEY TAKEAWAY: In the 16 years since I have been working in/with pharma I have worked with some very smart, patient centric, people. There are many good, hard working people within pharma, whose voices are often silenced in pursuit of numbers on the balance sheet.
How do you think the people at Mylan feel when they read that their company executives acted in their own self interests as they raised the price of the EpiPen over 500%? While there might have been a few who said nothing I bet there were many people who tried to sound the alarm that the price increase was not responsible. These are the people we don’t read or hear about.
Not too long ago i worked with a DTC team who had a team member who was charged with being “the voice of the patient”. Her job was to act like a patient when developing marketing materials to ensure they were focused on patient needs. She did a hell of a job, but her biggest frustration was trying to communicate to the brand team the importance of their pricing as it relates to patients.
There is no doubt that when the prices of drugs are set the key objective is maximum return on investment. Some have suggested that pharma is flipping the giant bird to patients when they set high prices and doesn’t care what they think, but that’s only true for executives who earn big bonuses by raising profit/sales/ Most of the rank and file marketing people within pharma are not compensated based on sales.
I continue to see hard working pharma people fighting for patients versus Wall Street but too often they lose. They lose because analysts and shareholders are saying “me first”. Some have given up and moved on to other industries but others still are there fighting for patients because they believe their product can help patients.
Try not to group ALL pharma people into a bucket of people who don’t care and instead focus on the CEO’s who are taking home tens of millions of dollars at the expense of patients.