Once again “sales first” mentality leads to trouble

shutterstock_304657877_650-400x246KEY TAKEAWAY: Insys Therapeutics is a poster child of how a “sales first” mentality can harm both patients and pharma companies.  STAT reports that “last Thursday that two former Insys sales reps were arrested and charged with violating federal kickback laws. They allegedly ran a scheme between October 2013 and June 2015 in which doctors were paid thousands of dollars to participate in “sham educational programs” designed to boost Subsys prescriptions.  When ex-sales people are put in executive positions of pharma companies danger usually follows.

I continue to hear stories about bad decisions that are made at pharma companies “to drive sales” which is ironic considering that pharma is a highly regulated industry.  However, pharma needs sales as the compensation of the CEO is usually tied to the performance of the organization.  This means that most people will do whatever they have to do to make the numbers.  This not only puts patients in dangers it threatens all pharma companies as the media uses fines as fodder to say “look you can’t trust pharma”.

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If you don’t believe it happens, how do you explain an executive at Lilly who was asked to “leave” for illegal marketing winds up at J&J on a competitive product which in turn is found to also supported illegal marketing?  One pharma sales executive or bad brand manager is fired and soon resurfaces in another capacity at another company?

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Wall Street investors, from 2012 to the middle of 2015, have poured more than $50 billion in new capital into the pharma industry,[/inlinetweet] according to Leerink, an investment bank that does equity research. That influx of cash shifted the character of the industry, says John Rother, head of the nonpartisan advocacy group National Coalition on Health Care. Instead of focusing on time-consuming R&D, drug companies began worrying more about delivering short-term gains to shareholders, he explains.

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In other words Wall Street comes first, patients are somewhere lower on the list.  Will pharma ever learn?