The end of innovation?

imagesPOST SUMMARY: Innovation is one of the key elements to help biopharma companies overcome the challenges that face them, but are mergers going to lead to more innovation or burdensome processes designed to slow innovation to a crawl.

Some smaller biopharma companies can usually innovate because of their size and people who have not been inundated with big pharma processes, but as bigger companies manage smaller acquisitions key people leave and older processes derail innovation.  A great example is Millennium Pharma, which is now Takeda Oncology, in Cambridge.

At one point in time Millennium was rated as an innovative oncology company by physicians at an Oncology trade show.  Their brand was a shining example of innovation, but then a series of mistakes took root.  The biggest mistake was changing the name from Millennium pharma to Takeda Oncology, and in doing so throwing away a lot of brand/company equity.  Millennium used to have a great emarketing team as well.  They had websites that were patient focused and even a dedicated person responsible for social media.  As Takeda ownership solidified websites were ignored, key emarketing people left or were let go and the CEO, who promised to make retaining talent a priority, lost some very good and talented people.

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There is a lesson here for all pharma companies that are buying smaller, more nimble biotech companies and that is that they can learn from smaller organizations, but I’m afraid that lesson will be null and void and the business of pharma takes priority.  There are so many good people leaving the industry now and layoffs are still happening as Sanofi just announced yesterday that they are going to reduce headcount.  This could be the end of innovation unless a leader with strategic vision understand that people make companies great, not products.

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