Will the pandemic change pharma culture?

QUICK READ: It’s going to be interesting to see how working at home changes the culture of back-to-back meetings. Will people learn that they can actually get things done without having to through a bureaucracy of approvals?

Less than a year ago it took me almost three months to get the approvals necessary to convert a product website into a responsive website. I recommended to the client that we review the internal processes needed to update the website but that meeting never happened.

Those of us who work with pharma companies know that it’s a matrix culture that results in weeks or months to get decisions made. In my opinion, this has been pharma’s biggest threat to providing patients with the information they need NOW to make healthcare treatment decisions.

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While some budget decisions are being scrutinized I’m finding that other business decisions are being made by empowered employees without the need to have meetings. Frankly, it’s refreshing.

The rush to find a treatment/vaccine for COVID-19

The gold rush is on. Almost every pharma company is trying to speed to market a treatment or vaccine for the Coronavirus. Patients want a treatment now but the risks of rushing a product to market without adequate testing are dangerous.

Take for example hydroxychloroquine. Reports from doctors in China and France have said that hydroxychloroquine, sometimes combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, seemed to help patients. But those studies were small and did not use proper control groups — patients carefully selected to match those in the experimental group but who are not given the drug being tested. Research involving a few patients and no controls cannot determine whether a drug works. And the French study has since been discredited: The scientific group that oversees the journal where it was published said the study did not meet its standards.

Gilead has decided to change the endpoints in their study. Re­searchers just amped up the size of these stud­ies and swapped end­points, lead­ing one promi­nent group of an­a­lysts to down­play the drug’s po­ten­tial for pro­vid­ing more than a mar­gin­al ben­e­fit. One oth­er Gilead bull, though, sees the glass half full.

We all want this horrible virus to be over but any cut corners could lead to bigger problems and drug companies that see treatment as dollar signs should be warned that they face scrutiny if their drugs cause more problems than they cure.