Honey, I Shrunk the Pharmaceutical Industry

Image courtesy of FilmClub.org

More news this week about the Incredible Shrinking U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry. Yesterday, BioPharma Dive ran a story titled “3 Major Trends Driving Layoffs in Biotech and Pharma.” 

Jobs in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry have been eliminated at an alarming rate. Consider the most recent numbers. Between 2009 and 2013–a five year period–at least 156,000 American jobs were eliminated from pharmaceutical companies. One thing we’ve definitely learned over more than two decades working in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries: just because something is good for shareholder return does not mean that it is healthy for the industry overall.

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Strategic Communications Can’t Fix Bad Leadership


This morning I watched the news with dismay as I learned about Rolling Stone magazine’s apparently false story about the rape of a student at the University of Virginia (UVA). In a 9,000 word article published in November 2014 entitled “A Rape on Campus,” a UVA student, identified in the article by the fictional name of “Jackie” to protect her real identity, alleged that she was the victim of a vicious gang rape at a campus fraternity house. After investigating the case, police in Charlottesville, Virginia could find no evidence that a rape had taken place. Upon further investigation it was discovered that the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not talk to any of the students allegedly involved in the rape before publishing the story. Rolling Stone retracted the story, apologized, and published an independent report by the Columbia School of Journalism that detailed where the magazine had gone wrong in developing this story. But the magazine also blamed “Jackie” for manipulating the magazine’s reporting process, and it also stated that none of the editors or reporters involved in the false story would lose their jobs. Continue reading

Pharmaceutical Companies and mHealth: Where are the Opportunities?

mHealthMobile health, digital health and big data analytics are real growth areas, impacting all aspects of the healthcare ecosystem and changing how we deliver healthcare, manage our individual health, pay for services and access health related information, among other things. But where do pharmaceutical companies fit into the equation, and how can the pharmaceutical industry benefit from the revolution happening in mHealth?

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BMS Acqusition Strengthens its Position as a Global Oncology Leader

mergers-and-acquisitionsEarlier this week, Bristol-Myers Squibb signaled its continued focus on becoming the world’s most successful specialty pharmaceutical company, and a global oncology leader when it announced the acquisition of Flexus Biosciences for up to $1.25 billion, along with a $339 million research agreement with Rigel Pharmaceuticals.

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More Pharmaceutical Industry Consolidation: Thinning out the Middle

Pills_and_tablets-439975-editedSo far this year there has been a lot in the news about M&A activity within the pharmaceutical industry, and lately the coverage seems to be about what’s happening with mid-tier companies, or specialty pharmaceutical companies. These companies are by no means small, but they aren’t on the same level as the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies. And they tend to be focused in markets where they have particular strengths.

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U.S. Pharma Industry Evolution


Today’s news about Pfizer’s $17 billion deal to acquire Hospira, a leading generic injectibles and biosimilars company, shows some of the tectonic shifts taking place in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. This is a big deal for a number of reasons. It demonstrates where some of the biggest growth opportunities are for pharmaceutical companies; hospital products, injectibles and biosimilars, which are generic copies of biological therapies. With an estimated $100 billion in biotech drugs losing patent protection in the next five to ten years, biosimilars represent a huge opportunity for pharma.

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AstraZeneca Doubles Down on Personalized Medicine


This week, AstraZeneca made a major announcement about its commitment to personalized medicine. AstraZeneca announced that it had established four research agreements to develop new “genetic scissors” technology that promises to allow the development of more effective and precisely targeted treatments. This is another step forward and further evidence that “precision medicine,” as president Obama called it in his recent State of the Union address, is seen as the future of drug development and medical progress. It is also further proof that global leaders in the pharma industry are fully embracing personalized medicine. Continue reading

Constructive Convergence: Pharmaceutical Companies and Mobile Health

Last week, the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) convened in Las Vegas. With 170,000 attendees and approximately 3,600 exhibitors, CES is one of the largest industry conferences in the world. CES is where new gadgets of all kinds are introduced to the world, from phones to drones to in-car technologies, and of course telemedicine and mobile health technologies.

Amid the seemingly endless stream of news coming out before, during and after CES was one announcement in particular that really caught my eye. Qualcomm, a global technology giant, announced a collaboration with Novartis to provide mobile technologies designed to enhance the efficiency and productivity of Novartis clinical trial programs and improve the experience of trial participants. This partnership is a key component in Novartis’s “Clinical Trials of the Future” program.

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More US Pharmaceutical Industry Downsizing

The U.S. pharmaceutical industry has taken some pretty severe hits over the past decade, and recent news suggests that it isn’t over yet. On December 3rd,  GlaxoSmithKline is expected to announce hundreds of job cuts in the United States, including jobs at GSK’s Philadelphia and Research Triangle Park locations. Continue reading

MANA 2015 Healthcare Marketing Report


Healthcare in the United States is in a transformational period. The Affordable Care Act, an explosion in new medical technologies, and the emergence of personalized medicine as a new model for healthcare delivery are all contributing to massive changes. In our free report, written specifically for those of us working in healthcare marketing, we take a look at some of these areas to identify what healthcare marketers will be facing in 2015.

We are very passionate about the industries and the clients we serve, and we believe that it is an incredibly challenging and exciting time for healthcare marketers as the U.S. healthcare system goes through a period of unprecedented change.

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Dementia–A Real Healthcare Crisis for the Pharmaceutical Industry

DementiaThis morning I read a very sad story in the excellent British newspaper The Telegraph. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, described the “desperate sadness” he felt as he watched Margaret Thatcher, a brilliant politician and one of the UK’s great leaders who he saw at the height of her powers, slip away with the onset and progression of dementia.

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a national debate on dementia as the result of a recent report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The report found major shortcomings in the quality of care provided to those suffering from dementia across the country. Continue reading

Pharmaceutical Industry Diversification: The Right Direction?

Yesterday, Bloomberg announced that Merck KGaA will acquire Sigma-Aldrich, a leading global laboratory supply and drug manufacturing services organization for $17 billion in cash. According to Bloomberg, this most recent deal is part of a broader strategy for Merck KGaA to “reduce its dependence on drug development.”

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The Father of Sustainability, Pharmaceutical Marketing and Food Safety

567_theodore_roosevelt_seatedAs an avid student of history since I was young, I have been watching and thoroughly enjoying the Ken Burns series “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” airing on PBS over the past few weeks. While many people have at least a basic understanding of, and appreciation for, the achievements of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his extraordinary wife and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, I think that far fewer of us are that knowledgeable about Theodore Roosevelt, simply because his presidency and his lifetime are to us far more distant history. But what a great man Theodore Roosevelt was. Burns’ outstanding program gives us wonderful insights into just how thoroughly modern Teddy Roosevelt was, in terms of really helping to shape our current understanding of sustainability, creating the foundations for today’s corporate America, and ushering in a new era of consumer protection by paving the way for what is today’s Food and Drug Administration.

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The Pharmaceutical Industry Needs to Find a Third Way

Yesterday, John LaMattina published an excellent story in Forbes looking at a recent round of research failures at pharmaceutical companies including Novo Nordisk, Exelixis and Piramal, and suggesting that these and other high profile research failures spell doom for drug discovery research scientists. From the standpoint of our understanding of the causes of human disease in 2014, which has never been greater, this is both illustrative of how risky the drug discovery process has become for pharmaceutical companies, and tragic because as a result of this the industry is scaling back on investments in early stage research at a time when it would seem they should be investing more. The implications for the pharmaceutical industry, and the patients who need the products they research and develop, are worrying to say the least. I spend a lot of time thinking about the pharmaceutical industry, where it is going, and how it can continue to adapt and be successful in times of great change.

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