Heading for the Horizon

Jun 01, 2011

PHARM EXEC'S COVER THIS MONTH puts six of our 2011 emerging industry leaders on a rocky headland against a roiling sea, with a backdrop of clouds the color of brillo plate. It's not a setting for those whose power helmets cannot tolerate that errant, out-of-place strand of hair. The visual portrait illustrates a larger strategic point: Success in this industry today requires a willingness to embrace the deviant player, the outlier trend, and the disconnected asset. The relevant skill set cannot be molded or packaged like an aerosol hair spray. Instead, it's the fresh, fragrance-free signals that allow for improvisation against the unpredictable.


William Looney
More important, our 30 emerging leaders must push for results in large, complex structures that—rhetoric to the contrary—continue to be run on the hierarchical "command and control" model familiar to the older baby boom generation now occupying key posts in the C-suite. And now that government payers are turning to pharma to bridge looming budgetary shortfalls through price cuts for prime products, it's best to swallow hard and think long-term—can youth actually be an aid to fiscal digestion?

Hence this lead feature makes an interesting, if unconventional, read; not a single recipient said the salient resume points have much relevance to what they are facing in the markets today. With that in mind, we posed a standard set of questions about leading colleagues through the darkness of contemporary pharma to compile brief career portraits for each of the recipients. Their accomplishments will be celebrated at a dinner hosted by Pharm Exec and Cegedim Relationship Management CEO Laurent Labrune this autumn.

Pharm Exec's second feature is a summary of our annual Dealmakers Roundtable of experts on trends in biopharma licensing and M&A. Our eight participants from Big Pharma, biotech, and the investment community were able to take an early look at the latest Campbell Alliance survey of dealmaker intentions, full details of which will be unveiled at the BIO annual meeting later this month. The session itself was held in the boardroom of the new Yankee Stadium, which has led to speculation that Alex Rodriguez's pay package may help rescue cash-poor biotech startups by setting a benchmark to inflate the level of deals.

Next, we move to China, and present the unconventional view of a market whose growth rate is misleading; while the pace of that growth may be high, the bar for performance is rising as well. The days of easy money in China are fading fast and what is replacing them is similar to the pattern of past success in other markets: the ability to differentiate products against the competition; reinforce brand awareness through a systematic commitment to quality insourcing and manufacture; and build reputation through strategic, community-based investments in research and technology. Finding and retaining local talent is another critical element; "I want to be the foreign employer of choice" should be front-and-center in every operation plan.

But perhaps the most anticipated part of the issue is the Kligon light we set each June on the ad agencies that drive awareness of the industry's products. "Agency Confidential" remains one of Pharm Exec's most valuable special supplements. This year's edition continues to pose the questions that dare not lead to the yawn-inducing answer. Here, we present a set of hypotheticals on how agencies might address the challenge of firming a niche around a new follow-on entrant to a crowded therapeutic class, or in building an entirely new franchise for a first-in-class innovative vaccine. And one of the industry's most persistent but responsible critics suggests that companies might try "the truth—today, not tomorrow" as a tag line to demonstrate value to clinicians and patients.

Finally, I wish to thank the five members of Pharm Exec's Editorial Advisory Board who participated with me in a plenary panel at the 50th anniversary meeting of the Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence and Research Group (PBIRG) in San Antonio last month. Like all things Texan, the meeting of market research professionals produced some outsized conclusions, not the least of which is that in a changing industry, the rationale for the function must change too. Relentless pressure from management to demonstrate ROI was highlighted, along with the importance of putting emphasis on strategy analytics and competitive intelligence to supplement the function's traditional strength in product survey work.