Why do some pharma employees support unethical practices

Some people who work for a pharma company are unethical as they have put profits ahead of patients. Many good people have found themselves in difficult situations as drug prices are set beyond the reach of many patients. They may be doing their best to make a difference, but at some point in time, employees need to determine if they are selling their souls for a paycheck.

There are several reasons why people might work for pharma companies that charge so much for drugs. Some of these reasons include:

  • Financial need. Sometimes, people must work for pharmaceutical companies because they have no other options. They may be struggling to make ends meet, or they may have a family to support. In these cases, they may feel they have no choice but to take a job, even if it means working for a company they disagree with.
  • Lack of awareness. Some people may not be aware that the company they work for charges high prices for drugs. They may not have done their research, or the company’s marketing materials may have misled them.
  • Self-deception. Even if people know that the company they work for charges high drug prices, they may still choose to work there. They may do this because they believe that the drugs are necessary, or they may be able to justify their actions to themselves.
  • Groupthink. People who work in pharmaceutical companies are often surrounded by other people who are also willing to overlook the company’s high prices. This can create a culture of silence, where people are afraid to speak out against the company’s practices.

Here are some things to consider if you are considering working for a specific pharma company :

  • What are the company’s pricing practices?
  • What is the company’s reputation for pricing drugs?
  • What are the company’s plans for the future in terms of pricing?
  • How much does the CEO make?
  • Do they put patients first?

f you are uncomfortable with the company’s pricing practices, you should not accept a job there. Many other companies have more ethical pricing practices, and you should be able to find a job that aligns with your values.

Over time I have seen many good people leave the industry, and what they all have in common is that they said, “the industry has changed’. I’ve seen patient initiatives cut because there was no complex ROI measurement, even though research clearly showed the opposite.

I’ve also seen many executives fired for bad decisions hired by other drug companies. When they catch unethical marketing, the FDA should require that the person(s) responsible be prohibited from working in the industry, but that will never happen. I know of a VP fired for going around legal and implementing an illegal marketing program to HCPs hired by a small biotech startup in a senior role. One has to wonder why.

I won’t quit calling out bad practices. I believe the potential for change is enormous. If the industry doesn’t change, legislation will force changes they won’t like.