The Learning Curve - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Learning Curve

Pharmaceutical Executive

Stage next: What's needed to succeed

Looney: In light of what we have been discussing, what are the most "mission critical" functions a drug company will need to compete effectively in the years ahead?

Bedford: Sales and marketing must be given close scrutiny. Mobile technology solutions can be applied to make the spending on promotion much more efficient. The accessibility of this technology is a game changer for the company that gets it right. Some 90 percent of cell phones are always within 10 feet of the user. The technology is shrinking and becoming more portable, from laptop to iPad to iPhone, and at each stage it becomes easier to make useful information instantly accessible. To access targeted physicians in real time with appropriate promotional messages—there is nothing more user friendly and efficient than that.

DePinto: The common thread in today's discussion is cost as applied to outcomes. And the elephant in the room is patient out-of-pocket costs. The patient burden is going to be higher. Analytic functions that can make sense of what the patient gets for their involvement in paying for care will be very important.

Floyd: Regulatory expertise has to be made strategic. The process has become numbingly complex. Just look at the new PDUFA V legislation. For years the industry pushed the view that success meant a shorter review timeline. Now we are coming to the realization that shorter timelines just gives us a faster "No." What we are essentially asking for now—and hopefully getting—is a slower "Yes," with extra time tacked on to get a better read on the safety profile. That's how the stricter risk benefit calculation kicks in. We are going to live and die by the credibility of our product data. It all starts at the bench, with the science and the innovation. Without it, we have no leverage to negotiate.

Collins: Patients are going to be far more assertive in seeking the right healthcare choices. The industry has to be technologically savvy in responding to their growing awareness about different options available to address their conditions.

Flaiz: Technology is going to drive the future of drug marketing. Data will be available to link all the brand stakeholders around a differentiated, customized message. Likewise, marketing will have to be purpose-driven, focusing on how a brand contributes to better health outcomes. If you invest in the total health solutions approach, the profits will come because the system is going to be geared to proving a wider health benefit from any intervention.

Looney: What are the skills that executives will need in this new environment and is the pool of expertise sufficient?

Truitt: Diversity and flexibility are important attributes for anyone working in the pharma space. My company seeks people with broad backgrounds and a track record of trying different assignments.

Floyd: There is a dearth of skills coming down from Big Pharma to the smaller firms. It's because of the niche role that the large global companies force on their employees. The result is that many positions are akin to commodities—good for one function, with too many people doing it. Instead of the stereotypical pedigree, what the business truly needs in the years ahead is versatility and transferable skills.

Bedford: Our business also benefits from those with experience in other industries, particularly in finding new ways to engage the consumer. The problem is the regulation in pharmaceuticals tends to frustrate marketers with those skills.

Jarmuz: The challenge to me can be framed in a single question: How do we grow future leaders that haven't had numerous rotational assignments in all the key functional areas, and may have spent 20-plus years working for one or two companies?

Robins: Executives in today's environment must be skilled at leading their own organizations through change, especially when the magnitude and pace of change is expected to increase.

Looney: Finally, as the bookend that binds back to our start today, I'll ask Professor Sillup to sum up.

Sillup: There are five enduring themes that marked this discussion and will serve as our perspective on what matters for the future. Finding, demonstrating, and communicating value, with a focus on outcomes. Partnering with a wider circle of stakeholders to solve complex problems. Identifying your core competence and prioritizing around it. Spending more time on functions and process as a source and driver of innovation. And, last, building a talent base centered on broad-spectrum expertise.


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