We, ourselves, must be held to a higher level of scrutiny

There are too many good people working within the pharma industry to consistently be the subject of darts from the media. We need to be the change we want to see and put patients back at the center of everything we do. It can’t always be about the stock price and CEO salaries.

Two stories last week clearly show that pharma executives don’t understand the REAL business we are in. The first were stories on how the Republicans and PhRMA will fight a vital provision of the Inflation act having to do with Medicare’s negotiation of drug prices. The argument that it will limit innovation is pure garbage.

The second is the story around the FDA’s bungled approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug. Biogen pushed for approval because they needed this drug to stay relevant. Biogen crossed the line several times, and they are paying the price now.

What do people think when they read these stories? What would we expect them to feel? The real question is, “does pharma care what the public thinks?”.

When I make changes to clients’ websites, they must go through a thorough approval process down to how sentences are worded; how can pharma invite so much scrutiny? The answer lies in a media that loves negative headlines without providing balance. I

After all the hype around Lilly’s weight loss drug, I finally read a news story that included some patient testimonials about the unpleasant side effects of being on these drugs. They also mentioned that there isn’t any data on long-term usage. A reputable pharma company would remind HCPs that these drugs may have unpleasant side effects and that as soon as patients stop the drug(s), they gain the weight back.

The other reason that too many pharma companies make bad choices has to do with the way CEOS are compensated. Too often, it’s tied to the stock and is not what’s good for healthcare.

If you’re in the industry, you know that most employees are recycled from other pharma companies. It’s somewhat rare to find people who came from outside healthcare because they’re not about to dive into a company culture involving back-to-back meetings and matrix decision-making, even on minor things.

But what about the people in middle management who understand that what we do benefits people, real people, not just a target audience? They are there, but too often, they report to someone hell-bent on implementing the “business of pharma” and getting promoted. Some weather the storm, but too many others are leaving because, as one person told me, “it’s changed for the worse.”

Fierce Pharma, STAT News, and some other industry websites do hold pharma’s feet to the fire when they hear of wrongdoing. Industry magazines like PM 360 and DTC Perspectives are laughable as they suck up to pharma in pursuit of ad dollars.

You should get angry whenever you see a negative story, fair or unfair because the industry has painted a target on their backs. We CAN change that. I believe that, and nothing will ever change my mind.