New Views Point the Way

October 14, 2020
Lisa Henderson

Volume 40, Issue 10

Previewing executive trends thought of by leaders in the pharma industry.

This year, Pharmaceutical Executive has hosted an increasing number of executive roundtables—some sponsored, others internally-driven, and still others collaborative. The most important aspect of all, no matter what the business driving them, is the insightful dialogue and focus on the topic or task at hand. Early on, our parent company joined with us to host a CEO Leadership roundtable around the pandemic, becoming the first of a quarterly series we are now conducting with CEOs on pressing concerns.

The second roundtable explores the image of pharma, and upcoming suggested topics include diversity and inclusion, and technology drivers post-COVID. Other upcoming executive roundtables to appear this year discuss real-world evidence uses and regulatory, and a look at biotech IPOs achieved from their CFOs’ viewpoint. Literally, all of these topics incorporated a view of COVID because, well, COVID.

We are still a couple of months from our Industry Outlook issue in January, but teased from the executive insights, here are some early trends in the running.

Re-imagining office space. This is not limited to large pharma, small biotech, or even the drug development industry at large. This is across industries and functions. Executives, once reticent to allow remote or telecommuting for employees, are re-visiting their management by walking around style, to include the successes they’ve experienced by utilizing Zoom, Teams and other virtual platforms. This includes a greater trust of their employees, who did not lose focus and even thrived during the virtual disruption.

Strategic travel. Most companies have not resumed travel as usual. And, again, through necessity, are now considering the successes achieved, albeit without a grueling travel schedule. As one executive noted: “I can see foregoing a coast-to-coast flight for a two-hour meeting as a good thing.” This also goes a long way toward cost-savings.

Real-world evidence. There is a lot going on in real-world evidence in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and those professionals definitely feel that part of the world…HEOR, learning health systems, regulatory decision-making…incorporating RWE has a wave of optimism behind it. And in this setting, the FDA is clearly making pathways for industry to get through submission approvals with RWE.

Collaboration. Collaboration is taking many forms. From precompetitive alliances, to working quickly and diligently toward a goal amongst shared stakeholders, to more formal partnerships. But it truly is a practice that is getting more real traction out of COVID on many fronts.

Diversity. Diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspects of work/life have increased in attention and scope, related to both COVID and advocacy around systemic institutional racism.

For biopharma organizations, the issues become keeping employees safe, healthy, and productive (i.e., As a person of color, does my employee feel safe? Does our culture allow them to fully contribute in their role?); making sure all employees have access to roles of increasing responsibility and authority; and ensuring the drug development and commercialization process, every aspect from clinical trials inclusion of diverse populations to developing drugs that affect diverse communities—and that access for all medications is supported by a diverse healthcare system.

Clearly, these trends are broad, complex, involve a lot of nuances, and we won’t be seeing clear results around any of these topics immediately. But as we move forward into 2021, continued practices will offer more supportive case studies to see where industry is going in all of these—and more—areas. Our Editorial Advisory Board meeting is at the end of this month, where we will tackle more trends for 2021.

In the meantime, our December issue will be our first deep-dive into COVID, featuring the Unintended Consequences around the virus, including therapeutic, manufacturing, philanthropy, and technology decisions.

One observation is the willingness of professionals in this industry to quickly look for the positives out of what is definitely a negative situation, bring those to the top, and move forward successfully.

Lisa Henderson is Pharm Exec’s Editor-in-Chief. She can be reached at lhenderson@mjhlifesciences.com.

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