Stop blaming pharma for profiteering?

According to STAT News, “it’s time to give up on pharmaceutical companies acting in the public interest over their shareholders’ interests and to start focusing on the systems that enable this behavior.” This is wrong and defeatist.

There was a time in pharma when drug prices weren’t so high, and CEOs weren’t paid tens of millions of dollars. Alas, time has changed, and pharms are like any big business. Profits and new blockbuster drugs are the critical objectives of big pharma, not patients.

Pharma is addicted to money. They will do anything ethical or unethical to keep the money flowing to drive up their stock. CEOs are rewarded on stock prices and could care less whether patients can afford medications.

The author of the STAT article may be correct; maybe it’s time to throw in the towel on ANY pharma company doing what’s right, but I work every day with people rising in the ranks within pharma and understand their responsibility to the public. It may take time, but they will replace the greedy CEOs whose only job seems to be keeping Wall Street happy.

The hard reality is that pharma’s business model is broken. They need new blockbusters to keep feeding the monster that eats money. Rather than focus on a smaller, leaner, more responsive company, they keep the massive bureaucracy.

It’s easier to lay off people than reorganize how you do business. It’s easy to fight a drug coming off patent with ridiculous additional patent litigation.

At the heart of every bad pharma company is a CEO whose loyalty faces financial institutions. That is the problem. When I was at Lilly, our CEO took a dollar annual salary when Prozac came off patent. Today, they leave with platinum parachutes, ensuring they will never have I work again.

Like I have said before, healthcare is too damn profitable. Every player wants to make a lot of money, while patients who undergo cancer therapy drain their bank accounts for out-of-pocket expenses. What about those companies that supposedly try to help pay for drugs? Try qualifying. It’s almost impossible.

Maybe it’s time to admit that big pharma is beyond broken and pass new legislation to bring down costs. Given pharma’s lobbying money, I’m not confident that will happen. Every CEO should have a sign in their office that says, “it’s never too late to do what’s right.” ” We need a new breed of CEO within the industry, and we can’t wait much longer.