The Reality of Pharmaceutical Industry Predictions is Coming True

The commentary and highlights of pharmaceutical industry challenges noted in Duff Wilson’s article “Patent Woes Threaten Drug Firms” in The New York Times (3/6/2011) and the Morgan Stanley report “An Avalanche of Risk? Downgrading to Cautious” come as no surprise if you have read the book Pharmaplasia.  This disconcerting pharmaceutical industry situation has been decades in the making and unfortunately, will take decades to turn around.

Those looking for or postulating near-term quick fixes from strategic restructurings, mega-mergers, technology acquisitions, or breakthrough serendipitous discoveries to resolve the industry dysfunction will be sadly disappointed.  As described in Pharmaplasia™, the problems in the pharmaceutical industry are deep rooted and involve more than just a lack of  R & D productivity.

Sure there are going to be the occasional successful new product introductions that give us hope that the industry is recovering but even those introductions will have been the result of decades of development work and there will be too few to really make a significant impact on restoring healthy consistent revenue growth for the industry.  For the pharmaceutical industry there are no quick fixes and it could take decades for the impact of the multitude of strategic efforts today to really begin delivering the types of financial results expected from the magnitude of investment being made by the industry.

In addition to fixing R & D, the pharmaceutical industry business model must become more efficient (increase operational productivity and reduce waste), must be more responsive to healthcare market needs, and must replace traditional sales and marketing tactics with healthcare market embraced programs.  Success will depend on competent leadership that is more interested in satisfying evolving new healthcare provider needs and patient well-being than “driving revenues”, satisfying Wall Street, and building personal financial wealth.

In the end, a more prosperous future for the pharmaceutical industry will come from discovering and developing truly innovative new treatments that provide clinically meaningful benefits over currently available therapeutic alternatives.  This will take a major change in R&D philosophy with a much more comprehensive basic sciences approach to finding preventions, treatments, and cures for diseases rather than relying on historical “tweaking of chemistry” and “trial and error” approaches of matching compounds with postulated disease targets.   mike@pharmareform.com