According to IMS, patent expirations will reduce brand spending on prescription drugs by $120 billion dollars through 2015. As more products come off patent and the business model for developing new drugs changes (and becomes more expensive), biopharma companies are going to look to cut costs. And, of course, that could mean a reduction in head count.

Biopharma’s downsizing of budgets and people is going to have a dramatic impact on the quality of DTC marketing. As one talented person who recently left his job at a leading biotech company told me, “Things are really bad. With the previous rise of brands, many people flew through the ranks of leadership without really having a clue of how to lead. As brand growth slows and impending patent expirations become reality, the jobs and opportunities are going to slow as well. Now people who have been getting promoted every 12-18 months are stuck in their jobs. They are realizing that they really aren’t rock stars and they actually just road the train of good times.”


He also said, “The company is now like a giant shark tank. They are now coming in and asking for cuts to the previous excesses of the culture. People are doing their best to protect their kingdoms and set themselves up for the scarce promotions that exist.”

So we are finding that the most talented people are not necessarily being retained. Rather, it is the people who are the best politically connected and the ones who do what is best for themselves rather than patients and customers. This in turn means that the biopharma industry is going to lose a lot of talented people at a time when they can least afford it.


How does the biopharma industry respond? What pharma companies desperately need now are indispensable marketers who are original thinkers, provocateurs, and people who care about what they do and how it impacts patients. We need marketers who can lead and passionate change-makers willing to be shunned to make a point. Good marketers need to stay in marketing. Don’t move them to another area to “learn a new job,” because you lose capabilities. Finally, CEOs need to have a pharmaceutical background. They should not come from finance where they know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

If the biopharma industry does not try and retain their talented people, then everyone suffers—including shareholders, patients and customers. In the end, the organization is made of up of people and their talent and passion to do a great job.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof and www.newmediaand He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.


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