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Looking Back at 2011–2014.
With the 20th of anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US still fresh in the minds of many, our first look back at the turn of the previous decade takes us to a moment of national unity. On May 1, 2011, then-president Barack Obama announced Osama bin Laden, a driving force behind the 9/11 attacks, was dead, ending a 10-year manhunt for the most wanted terrorist in the world. While nothing will ever provide complete closure to the tragic events of 9/11, Obama famously said, “Justice has been done.”
Obama, the incumbent Democratic president, along with then-vice president Joe Biden were re-elected to a second term in 2012. The duo defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney by taking a majority of both the electoral college and popular votes. Just weeks before the election, on Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the US over Atlantic City, New Jersey. Following its crash-course through Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, Sandy caused $70.2 billion in damage on US soil, devastating the Jersey Shore and parts of New York. At the time, it was the second costliest hurricane in US history, trailing only Hurricane Katrina.
2013 began with Obama being inaugurated on Jan. 20. In more world-leadership news, Cardinal Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, then 76 years of age, was elected as the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13. Taking the name Francis, he was the first non-European pope elected in more than 1,200 years.
Just months later on June 9, Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, admitted to leaking documents containing information on mass-surveillance programs run by the US government. At the time, he was in Hong Kong but ended up in Russia just weeks later where he was granted temporary asylum. Snowden is still in Russia, where he has permanent residency.
On a more positive note, 2014 was a year of athletic achievement. In February, the world’s best competitors took center stage at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The home country claimed the most medals with 33 (before a revealed doping scandal among Russian athletes saw many of them stripped). Not far behind was the US with 28 and Norway with 26 to round out the top three. One of the best moments of the games occurred when the US and Russian men’s ice hockey teams met in a preliminary game that was ultimately decided by a shootout that lasted eight rounds. It reignited a rivalry dating back to 1980’s “Miracle on Ice,” in which the US beat the heavily favored Soviet Union in the first game of the medal round. Months later, the FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil where Germany defeated Argentina in a 1-0 thriller to win the event. The US, on the other hand, made an early exit following a defeat at the hands of Belgium in the round of 16.
In music, Katy Perry found herself on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 charts 11 different times across this four-year span. The charts were rather diverse during this period, as Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy” led the way with 10 consecutive weeks at the top position in 2014. No other top song had managed more than seven, which was achieved by Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” in 2011.
In other entertainment, JK Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series concluded on-screen in theaters with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 in 2011. The movie series, inspired by the books, had eight releases that spanned 10 years. The franchise still sits as the third-highest grossing of all time. Outside of the “boy who lived,” The Avengers and Frozen rounded out the most popular film releases of the time.
In pharma, Pfizer lost its patent protection on Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, in 2011. Being one of the most popular prescription drugs of all time, it brought in nearly $5 billion annually. At the time, Pfizer tried to curve the loss through a series of acquistions.
The leading story of the healthcare world during this four-year span was a viral outbreak. And no, we promise we haven’t arrived at 2020 just yet. On March 23, 2014, the World Health Organization reported the first cases of Ebola Virus Disease in Guinea. It marked the beginning of the West African Ebola epidemic, the largest in history. By 2016, 11,325 people had lost their lives from the disease, including one from the US.
Andy Studna is an Assistant Editor for Pharm Exec. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.