- There has been a transformation within the pharma industry during the last decade.
- Although they say that patients are first their actions indicate that Wall Street is first.
- It starts with CEO’s that are over compensated and brainwashing employees to believe their products benefit all of us.
- Career “pharma employees” are hurting the industry while people who understand the challenges are being driven out of the industry.
- Phony pharma awards don’t help acknowledge the problems of the industry.
Yesterday I spent an hour on the phone with a reporter from a leading national newspaper talking about the pharma industry. Her first question was “I’ve been writing about the pharma and biotech industries for over 15 years and have never seen such a high level of distrust. What happened?”.
What happened, indeed.
It started with the industry’s first mega drug Lipitor. The sales of Lipitor were so high that Wall Street and other pharma companies took notice. It then became a race to develop the next blockbuster with Wall Street betting on new rugs in development. But as drugs came off patent they couldn’t always be replaced by “new and improved” products as insurers wielded new power. So the best way to ensure revenue entailed blocking generic alternatives like AbbVie has done with Humira, and raising prices annually as part of a revenue plan.
Then came CEO’s whose backgrounds were in finance rather than science and the “instant gratification” of Wall Street. Layoff’s were a way to make the balance sheet look better which led to too many people who really cared about their work leaving the industry. On top of all this pharma companies found that it was better to buy new drug candidates or companies than invest in R&D. Gilead, for example, paid for a drug to cure Hep-C and priced the drug in the stratosphere. I’m sure their employees rationalized the drug’s price by saying “it’s cheaper than a live transplant” but to this day there are patients who still can’t afford the medication including veterans.
While the FDA is releasing a list of pharma companies that are attempting to block generics the current administration is filled with former ex-drug company executives and the swamp is overflowing. Still, we have phony pharma awards from magazines like DTC Perspectives. These awards mean little, but heighten the level of self-importance of career pharma people whose goal is to keep climbing the ladder. To date only one publication tells it like it is, STAT News the others are industry fart sniffers.
Can the industry recover? I’m not sure. I do work with some very talented people who really care about what they do, but their voices are often silenced by career employees whose only focus is sales and ROI.
As I have written before, change is coming, but it will be forced on the industry. PhRMA is nothing but a paid propaganda mouth and has little basis in reality. People are mad and this anger will be expressed via votes in the next election. A sad place to be…