Pharma CEOs Expound on Industry Change

July 2, 2008
Pharmaceutical Executive
Volume 0, Issue 0

A new global CEO study examines what near- and long-term changes pharma leaders expect to face and in what areas they are planning to focus their attention. Key focus areas: global business design and new markets.

What's the biggest concern for pharma CEOs? According to a new survey and scheduled to be released later this month, people skills and talent concerns are the areas most in need of change, drawing 63 percent of replies. Regulatory issues followed at 53 percent, outpacing market factors by 8 percentage points.

This is the sixth year IBM has conducted its Global CEO Study, but this is the first time it has segmented out the life science component. IBM wanted to know what was top of mind for CEOs, so the computer behemoth interviewed more than a thousand company chiefs across a number of verticals, including nearly a hundred pharma CEOs.

"What came out of this survey is that the life sciences industry is one that's in the middle of a big transition, but what's interesting is that CEOs are saying that the journey has just begun," said Michael E. Svinte, vice president of global pharmaceutical and life sciences at IBM. "They are so bombarded with change that they are struggling to keep up with it."

Think Global
Collaboration was also a key area that pharma leaders see as in need of improvement. CEOs are looking to formulate new alliances and partnerships to generate new ideas. According to IBM, CEOs are examining other industries that have gone through similar transformations in recent years to better ascertain what they need to do to survive the recent changes in pipeline and patent expirations.

More pharma CEOs are now moving toward global business designs, with 90 percent actively engaging in foreign markets. However, IBM states that federal regulations are the biggest hindrance for pharma looking abroad, followed by a lack of sufficient talent.

Helping Hand
One odd fact of note is that while 62 percent of life science CEOs said they view rising expectations of corporate responsibility as a positive trend, only 24 percent of respondents said that those rising expectations will affect how they do business.

In the study, IBM questions whether this is because they already have programs in place to be more responsible with the environment and helping fight disease in impoverished nations, or whether they just don't have the strategies in place.