Six Degrees of 2020

January 12, 2021
Lisa Henderson

Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clinical Trials and Pharm Exec. She can be reached at lhenderson@mmhgroup.com.

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-01-01-2021, Volume 41, Issue 1

Embracing the new, holistic views of pharma in 2021.

Quite a time ago, I wrote about reactions pharma professionals receive from either acquaintances or friends when they find out what industry they work for. The reactions range from interest to an unwanted and unwarranted remark that could chill any social situation. But if there is something that 2020 has taught us, is that science is viewed as questionable and the industry we all support, which is helping us get out of the pandemic hole we are in, still is viewed with suspicion. I’m not a scientist. I studied journalism and have worked in business-to-business publications my whole career. But once I found clinical trials and pharma, it was fascinating. For many reasons: the processes, the history, the science and biotech’s emergence and, most of all, the people.

The people that invest their careers in pharma are some of the smartest, positive, inquisitive, and poised group. It’s literally a stereotype. I have interviewed so many with unique stories and most have that underlying desire to truly help people and contribute positively to society. I’ve also met a number of pharma leaders who served in the military, fortifying my belief that the US Armed Forces provides an education in rational, organized, and thoughtful behavior, one that can be translated into any number of industries.

I value the astonishing advances that come from science and medicine. So it always comes as a surprise when I hear hesitancy around the COVID crisis—in regard to both science and vaccines. I’m not a scientist, or a doctor, but lately people who know what I do have asked me what I think about the vaccines. I know a couple of nurses who don’t want to get the first vaccines, they want to wait, but their closeness to high-risk groups will probably require they do.

Years ago, I had a hairdresser who wasn’t getting her child vaccinated but planning to send her to public school on exemption. I have a family member who wouldn’t touch surfaces as recently as last month. I attended a socially-distant, appropriately masked gathering within the population limits of my state where I heard that COVID was a hoax.

Clearly, I know those who are all in with science and vaccines. But my point is, if we all know someone, who knows someone, well…the six degrees…it feels more disconcerting.

More positive degrees

Back to the science and medicine. There is also a six-degrees of pharma, biotech, and medical professionals that cross over and back from academic research into industry, industry to CROs, physicians to biotech, as well as PhDs. The industry is definitely more willing to cross-pollinate outside of the rigid, conservative walls of maybe five to 10 years ago. We will be looking closer at some of these stories in podcasts and articles this year, those that support the holistic views and experiences these individuals bring to their careers.

Our cover executive profile this month is Ted Love, MD, CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics, who says in his profile, “GBT was really after I’d retired. But it was impossible for me to turn down because of the sickle cell mission, because of all of the historical disparities in sickle cell disease. As an African American, these things were very personal to me.” Read this profile for more of the personal and professional views of Love’s journey.

More positives, this issue brings Pharmaceutical Executive to its 40th year! To commemorate, each month this year, editors will highlight the facts and history of a group of years, except in this issue where we focus solely on 1981 to herald the opening of the anniversary year. (Click here to read more about the year of REO Speedwagon, Ronald Reagan, Biogen, and Valium).

As always, drop us a line or reach out with a topic, article, or idea to bounce off of us. We miss the conferences, so let’s keep the ideas going.

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

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