Thoughts on working with and in the pharma industry

THOUGHT: I love working in the pharma industry. Yes, I have been critical of the industry because I believe there is too much focus on pleasing Wall Street, yet I believe that there are some really good people starting to climb the ladder and that soon we’ll see some really substantial changes. Believe in what we can do together.

One change in the workplace is that employees want more of a say about their company when it comes to social and moral issues. For example, following a controversial ban on political discussions earlier this week, Basecamp employees are heading for the exits. The company employs around 60 people, and roughly a third of the company appears to have accepted buyouts to leave, many citing new company policies.

More and more people want to see change in the workplace, and they are risking their careers to bring about that change. While the media is focused on drug prices, they fail to see the thousands of people in R&D believe they can develop new therapies to help overcome chronic health issues. But we still have a long way to go.

I worked with a client on the launch of a new drug last year. During one weekly status call, the Medical Affairs person commented that they were receiving reports from “the field” of a new side effect not listed in the label. Information was still being gathered, but it was a potentially big issue for the drug’s positioning.

I was asked for my thoughts because of my 22 years of experience. I said that we first need to collect all the data and let medical analyze the implications but that we should be prepared to amend content on the website and strategize the best way to notify the field and HCPs. Most everyone agreed, but one industry veteran said, “we need to forget this and move forward.” After that comment, there was an awkward pause, and later, a Director called me to apologize for the comments of the Senior Director. She said, “when the time comes, we’ll do the right thing.” Those are the type of people we need in the industry.

The issue around drug pricing will remain a hot button in the media even though hospitals are making outrageous profits and insurers are again starting to deny patients recommended treatments. The media loves negative news. It leads to clicks which leads to high advertising rates. They fail to mention that most of the population has health insurance and that the vast majority are happy with that insurance. When, however, OP costs can force someone into bankruptcy, there is a serious gap that must be addressed.

Every pharma CEO should require that every employee has a KRA on focusing on patients. It has to be quantifiable so it can be graded. It has to be everyone’s job to focus on patients and make them industry champions.

Last month this site hit almost 100,000 readers in one month. They are reading my content via email subscription, TUMBLR, Medium, and other sites where I share content. I get many comments personally as people are forbidden from posting because of pharaoh company restrictions, but I am thankful to every one of you.

I force many changes ahead for the industry when it comes to DTC and HCP marketing. I know many companies will fail, but many others will succeed, and that success takes the form of someone who can live life the way they want because of our products.