Staying Ahead of the Curve
On January 20, 2009, a new president will be sworn in for the first time in eight years. Significant and dramatic healthcare policy changes are likely to follow after Barack Obama takes the oath of office and the expanded Democratic congressional majority settles in. But what does the electoral outcome mean for healthcare companies and the industry as a whole?
First, remind the public, policymakers, and the media of all the good pharma companies do. That means demonstrating their alignment with the well-being of patients and doctors. While there may be differences among these groups, their shared interest, especially in preventing disease, must be articulated clearly and regularly. Life-sciences companies are investing billions on research into life-saving medications. In doing so, the companies take on great risk even during good economic times—but during a recession and credit crunch, the financial perils of innovation loom much larger. At the same time, they should also put the quality of care front-and-center in the healthcare reform debate. The more the focus is on quality, the stronger ground this industry will stand on.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, pharma companies must recognize that the giant wave that is coming will flatten anyone who stands there and tries to stop it; far better to surf the wave and steer in the direction you want to go. That suggests the wiser course of action is to sit down at the table with leaders of the new administration and Congress to tensure that their concerns are addressed. Lawmakers and regulators are looking for solutions and seeking consensus; it will be better for the pharmaceutical and bio science business to propose serious alternatives than to lose their seat at the table.
Why not try to limit the damage and maximize the opportunities presented by change, rather than let others dictate how change will be imposed? For example, rather than telling policymakers that they need to go in a different direction, propose a better way to go in the same direction, such as replacing mandatory requirements with voluntary incentives.
Jeffrey M. Sandman is CEO of Hyde Park Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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