Those of us who love the pharma industry need to step up

KEY TAKEAWAY: Those of us who really love working in pharma need to the lightening rod for change before it’s too late.

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know that as of lately I have been very critical towards pharma.  It’s because I love the industry and I have firsthand how we affect the lives of people who have their lives derailed by horrible health problems.  It’s hard to sit in research and hear patients stories without wanting to run in and ask them “what can I do to help?”

In the era of super blockbusters pharma became addicted to super brands.  The industry slowly transformed from healthcare to a dollars and cents business.  I’m not naive to believe that pharma has to make profit, but when patients are going bankrupt paying for expensive cancer therapy co-pays something is wrong.  When MS patients are stuck fighting the “system” to get the drugs they need something is very wrong and when pharma CEO’s take home tens of millions of dollars in pay while some employees work 12-14 hour days to try and make a difference the organization is in deep trouble.

So the question becomes “what are you prepared to do?”.  Are you willing to be told that “you’re not a team player” to fight for patients?  When I was on the Cialis team I actually went up against a Senior Director because she wanted money to do something that would not have meant one hill of beans to patients or the business.  My team leader thanked me and I was able to eventually win her over and win the highest marketing award at Lilly which I display with pride.

What I hear, more and more, is that marketing teams are being downsized and that too many bureaucratic barriers remain in place to transform the organization from old models of DTC to digital centric patient marketing.  When you think of how patients “get lost” in the system and need help the reluctance of pharma to invest in digital is even more puzzling.

Steve Jobs said that” it’s more fun to be a pirate” and he was right.  We need more pirates in the industry who are willing to blow up current business models and prepare the organization for the future.  There has never been a better time to challenge the status quo because the rewards of seeing a patient smile are worth the risks.