Tag Archives: healthcare

A Warning Letter to CMS for Obamacare “Misleading Advertising”

I subscribed to the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) e-mail newsletters to stay up to date on what is going on and to make sure I get the information I need when it comes time to figure out what to do come October 1, 2013.

Well, yesterday I get an e-mail notice from CMS informing me of the “10 Healthcare Benefits Covered in the Health Insurance Marketplace.”  I’m redirected to a blog post on HealthCare.gov that has this wonderful list, especially for those who might need a lot of healthcare.  The list looks virtually “all-inclusive.”  The implication is that regardless of the plan or state I live in, once I pay the monthly premium, I get what’s on the list.  So, for example, item “# 6 – Your Prescription Drugs” are included.  The way it’s presented suggests that once I sign up for health insurance I will no longer have to pay for prescription drugs.  The same implication holds true for the rest of the list.  Choose my plan, pay my monthly premium and things on the list are paid for. Unfortunately, there is little detail and consequently this “advertisement” is very misleading, especially if you are not familiar with how the exchanges or insurance plans might work. No mention of cost variability, deductibles, or co-pays.

The blog clearly was designed to hype benefits while being intentionally vague about cost.   In fact, no mention of cost or cost variability is masterful copy-writing.   It creates an almost subliminal implication of “no additional costs” for “all inclusive coverage,” even for those of us who might sign up for the least expensive plan.   I may be wrong but I don’t think that will be reality and CMS knows that.

Maybe we should send CMS a warning letter for deceptive and misleading advertising.


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

Healthcare Reform and Generic Drugs will Drive Branded Prescription Drug Prices Higher

Recently, in one month, the price of my branded prescription drug for high cholesterol went from $130 per month to $145 per month at the same pharmacy.  Yesterday I changed to a generic drug alternative (not the same as the brand I was taking) which will cost me $4 per month after joining a $20 per year prescription savings club.  I now get more than two years of medication for the price I was paying for one month of the branded product.  Assuming I will be able to control my cholesterol with this new medication (no reason to believe it won’t as I have taken most of them over the past several years),  at $1 per week it is hard to complain about the high price of prescription drugs.

So why was I even paying $130 in the first place, when generic alternatives were available?  Well, when I had prescription drug coverage through my employer provided insurance,  my co-pay for the branded products was about $20.   I not only didn’t think about the actual price of the drug but I didn’t even care to know what it would have cost without insurance.   Generic drug alternatives didn’t enter the thought process.  Besides, how much lower priced could the generic drug be? More recently, until the price increase,  I just kept getting the prescription filled even though it seemed expensive at $130 per month.

Fortunately my physician agreed to try me on the generic alternative.  For once I also felt fortunate that I was not covered by a government program (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE) which would have made me ineligible for this savings club and these generic drug prices.  There is a wide range of therapeutic categories with over 400 generic medications available from this pharmacy prescription savings club priced at $12 for a 90-day supply (or $9.99 for 30 days).  Again, hard to suggest these prices are unreasonable and they certainly are not expensive in the context of most prescription drug price discussions.  Even without the savings club membership the price would have been less than $30 per month.

Despite the fact that over 70% of prescriptions in the US are now filled with generics drugs, I can’t help but to think from my own experience that there are still a lot of people who could financially benefit from a switch to generics.   I also believe healthcare reform will bring significant cost pressures to get more patients converted to generic drugs.  The Congressional Budget Office reported that in 2007, if all of the 45 million Medicare Part D prescriptions filled with multiple-source brand-name drugs (brand name drugs with generic alternatives) had instead been filled with their generic counterparts, an additional $900 million would have been saved.  And that is without considering therapeutic substitutions (as my case would be considered) or the potential savings from the blockbusters now coming off patent over the next few years.

The biggest downside for patients resulting from this healthcare market evolution to encouraging the use of more generic drugs is that if you need one of the innovative branded products for which there is no good generic alternative, you are going to pay much higher prices than you might have in the past.  If my generic cholesterol lowering agent isn’t as effective (or has more side effects) as the branded product I was taking, I’ll be back to paying the $140 per month.

I believe two factors will drive branded product prices higher with healthcare reform.   First, truly innovative treatments that deliver real clinical value and unique therapeutic benefits will command a premium price because they will be deemed worth paying for and taking.   Second, more generic drugs and more patients taking generic drugs will shrink the market for branded products to people who absolutely need the branded products.   Drug companies will have to exact their profits from fewer products that can deliver these unique therapeutic benefits to much smaller patient populations.   Companion diagnostics will further reduce these already small populations of patients, by identifying responders and eliminating those who might experience side effects.

So the good news for patients is there will be more generic drugs available at low prices resulting in lower costs to government programs (tax payer benefit), private insurance (keeps co-pays lower), and patients.   Pharma companies on the other hand will be able to, and will have to, charge even higher prices when patients need their innovative branded products.

Disclosure:  I am not compensated  by the prescription savings club.  The link is included here only as a reference.


Another Challenge for Healthcare Reform and the Pharmaceutical Industry

The recent CDC report on how poorly we are doing in preventing the leading cause of death in the US, cardiovascular disease, despite the availability of inexpensive effective treatments, is pretty disappointing.  It is probably a good surrogate for how people think about illness.

If the symptoms are silent and merely precursors for what might happen, people tend to be indifferent and less interested in paying any associated expenses.  If they are sick with symptoms that are uncomfortable, make daily activities impossible, or they are told they are dying from the disease, they will do just about anything and pay just about anything to eliminate the symptoms or disease.

I believe this reflects both a healthcare systems failure and tremendous patient apathy that suggests they don’t feel responsible for expenses (thinking either insurance or the government should pay) related to the consequences of their own poor health.

The report concludes:

“Although treatment of high blood pressure and high cholesterol is very effective and relatively low-cost, most people with these conditions remain at elevated risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other problems.”

  • By the Numbers – High Blood Pressure
    • 1 in 3 Adults has high blood pressure
    • 1 in 3 Adults with high blood pressure does not get treatment
    • 1 in 2 Adults with high blood pressure does not have it under control
  • By the Numbers – High Cholesterol
    • 1 in 3 Adults has high cholesterol
    • 1 in 2 Adults with high cholesterol does not get treatment
    • 2 in 3 Adults with high cholesterol do not have it under control

The insurance coverage focus of healthcare reform will probably make little difference in these numbers.  In this same CDC report, it is noted that more than 80% of patients who lack control of theses cardiovascular disease symptoms already have insurance.  Additionally, the cost to treat these conditions is relatively low with many highly effective treatments now available as inexpensive generic drugs.

Unfortunately, over the past several decades while healthcare provider systems battled Pharma companies over drug prices and Pharma companies focused on driving the market for “new prescriptions,” a huge market of untreated and ineffectively treated patients was building.

Why should we care?

Well, Pharma should care because there are tens of millions of potential patients yet to be treated.  Perhaps not all these potential patients will be willing or able to pay high prices for branded products but some may and will.

More importantly, beside the thousands of people suffering debilitating consequences or even dying prematurely, this same CDC report notes that cardiovascular disease costs the nation $300 billion each year.

So how do we improve and expand the treatment of patients with high blood pressure and high cholesterol?

The CDC report includes several suggestions and recommendations for programs, systems, and incentives for prevention and improving the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.  Unfortunately, many are similar to tactics being deployed today, previously suggested, or that have been tried before.

I believe the solution to this dilemma is to make the patient take responsibility for their health.  Pharma companies can make effective treatments available, physicians can prescribe the life style changes and medications, insurance companies and the government can pay for the treatments.  But, if patients don’t seek out and comply with the life style changes and treatment regimens, there is little the rest of the healthcare provider system can do to help patients prevent cardiovascular disease.

So how do we get patients to take responsibility?  This may be a little radical but what about making patients personally,  financially responsible for the consequences of not seeking diagnosis and treatment or complying with their treatment regimens.  If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and you choose not to find out (get checked) or be treated or not to be compliant with your prescribed treatment (including life style changes), that’s fine,  but you become personally responsible to pay for any medical expenses related to your heart attack or stroke.

While people have a hard time appreciating the health consequences of a heart attack or stroke until it happens, they seem to understand the financial consequences without experiencing the event.  That is why people buy insurance and why health insurance is so important to them when seeking employment.  They can relate to the financial implications more than the health consequences.

Want more patients to have their high blood pressure or high cholesterol controlled?  Make them financially responsible for the consequences of not seeking treatment and not staying in control of their disease.


Quit Blaming Drug Companies for Healthcare Market Prescribing and Reimbursement Decisions

Pharmaceutical industry marketing and sales are often blamed for promoting  “off label” prescribing and have been highlighted in prescription drug fraud and product liability cases.

If the healthcare market, industry critics, regulatory agencies, and patients are looking for a way to control and reduce the influence of pharmaceutical company advertising and promotion on prescription drug choice, they should step up and take responsibility for the decisions they are making.  Don’t blame the drug companies for prescribing and reimbursement choices being made by the healthcare market.

Nobody is forcing physicians to prescribe these drugs.  Nobody is forcing insurance companies or the government to reimburse prescriptions written for “off-label” uses.  Nobody is forcing patients to take drugs for unapproved uses or to take drugs that might result in side effects or adverse reactions.  These are all conscious choices.

Information about the appropriate use of prescription drugs and the known potential risks associated with taking these drugs is readily available in the prescribing information (FDA approved label claims or package insert) for each drug.

One would think that prescribing decisions would be based on careful evaluation and assessment by the healthcare market, physicians, and patients and not driven by the influences of pharmaceutical company marketing and sales activities.  How irresponsible is it for physicians, government agencies, or insurance companies to accuse drug company advertising and promotion for determining their prescribing practices or reimbursement policy rationale?  It is also not credible to suggest the government (including state agencies) and insurance companies are being duped by drug companies and are blindly reimbursing for drugs prescribed for “off-label” uses.

So how should this be working?  (I am not trying to be a lawyer here, just proposing how it should be working)

  • When a physician and a patient decide to use a product, it should be implicitly acknowledged that they are aware of and understand the information in the product prescribing information (FDA approved label claims and safety information).  If the patient does not understand the information in the product label or the implications of the wording in the product label, it is the physician’s responsibility to help them understand the potential risks and benefits.
  • The patient has a choice to take the drug or not based on the information they receive from the physician (and they can read the product prescribing information themselves, if they want to).  By deciding to take the drug, patients acknowledge they are aware of the potential for side effects and adverse reactions and accept these risks (shouldn’t be able to come back and sue the pharmaceutical company for something that is in the package insert).  They have made an informed choice to accept the risks.
  • Pharmacists, before dispensing a prescription, should make sure patients understand how to take their medications and the potential side effects, adverse reactions, and food or drug interactions.  Dispensing pharmacists should be accountable for making sure patients understand the risks.
  • Physicians should prescribe products only for the FDA approved label claim indications.  Physicians who prescribe and patients who decide to take a drug for an “off-label” indication or use should assume the product liability for how the patient responds to the drug (lack of efficacy or any resulting side effects and adverse reactions). They have made a conscious informed decision and choice to prescribe the product for a use for which the manufacturer has not obtained sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy (FDA approval).
  • Government programs (e.g., CMS), private insurance companies, healthcare provider plans (including state government programs), and pharmacy benefits managers should reimburse only for FDA approved label claim indications.  By providing reimbursement for “off-label” uses, I believe they are complicit in the promotion of “off-label” use of prescription drugs.  The lack of reimbursement makes the promotion of products for “off-label” uses much less attractive for drug companies.
  • Insurers (private or public) who provide reimbursement for off-label uses of a product should assume all product liability for its “off-label” use, including lack of efficacy or any resulting side effects or adverse reactions. (can’t come back and sue the pharmaceutical company)
  • Insurers (private or public) who agree to reimburse for “off-label” use of a product should not be able to sue for false claims or fraud related to that “off-label” use.  The insurer knows the physician has made a conscious decision to prescribe the product for an “off-label” use, the patient has been informed of this decision and how it was reached (discussion with the physician), and the reimbursing insurer has the prescribing information against which to evaluate their decision.  By providing reimbursement, the insurer acknowledges agreement with these decisions and should accept the potential liabilities.

If the healthcare market, insurers, physicians, and patients don’t want to be influenced by drug company advertising and promotion, they can simply take responsibility for the drug treatment choices and reimbursement decisions they make.  The ready availability of FDA approved prescribing information leaves little excuse to be unduly or inappropriately influenced by drug company marketing and sales activities.  In fact, isn’t it embarrassing to admit that prescribing and reimbursement decisions are based more on pharmaceutical company marketing and sales than medical information and clinical judgment.

So quit blaming drug companies for prescribing choices and reimbursement decisions.  mike@pharmareform.com

Pharmaceutical Company Restructuring Considerations for the Future

In the last post we discussed how Big Pharma might have avoided having to lay off so many of their loyal employees had they done a better job of managing their business for the long-term.  Well, easy to look back and criticize but how about looking forward?

Here are some things for Big Pharma executives to consider as they restructure for the future:

  • No single blockbuster product can fix a dysfunctional pharmaceutical company.  It can only buy time to make the inevitable difficult but necessary changes.
  • The pharmaceutical market will become increasingly global with less regional variation in treatment practices, regulation, and pricing.
  • Unsubstantiated value of seemingly unjustifiably high prices will be met with market rejection, outright price controls, government price negotiations, and higher rebate expectations.
  • Relative to Big Pharma pipeline needs, Biotech will have a finite supply of clinically meaningful differentiated innovative products available for acquisition
  • Traditional marketing and sales activities will have little impact on prescribing behavior which will be more influenced by scientific rationale, demonstrated meaningful clinical benefit, and the impact on overall healthcare costs of treating the patient
  • Prescribing will be increasingly managed with “best practice treatment guidelines” prompted and monitored for compliance through e-prescribing technology
  • Electronic medical records with medical information systems driven algorithms will allow for real world assessments for determining relative therapeutic benefits and healthcare cost implications of treatment options
  • Financial incentives, cost management benefits, and more effective products and programs will drive a revitalized interest in making preventive medicine and medically prescribed life style changes a priority
  • Product and treatment assessments will be more rigorous, more sophisticated, and less easily influenced by Pharma companies unless they have  compelling real world clinical data to support their claims
  • Comparative efficacy will become a regulatory and healthcare market expectation
  • Therapeutic options will include stem cell, gene therapy, and synthetic biology- derived treatments.  Some may ultimately eliminate the need for chronic treatment in small molecule mass markets.
  • Drug-device and delivery systems will target treatments to specific disease targets, increasing efficacy at lower doses while reducing the potential for side effects and adverse reactions
  • Companion diagnostics and personalized medicine will be a regulatory, market, and healthcare provider expectation
  • Reliable, high quality manufacturing that ensures consistency and safety will be a differentiating feature for pharmaceuticals, especially for generic drugs
  • Affordability will eventually mean denying insurance coverage (private or government) for high priced drugs with marginal therapeutic benefit, especially those with minimal end of life benefits
  • To maintain profitability under intense pricing pressure Pharma companies will be forced to dramatically reduce their operating expenses (well beyond their current thinking)
  • Big Pharma companies that maintain their large organizational size will have less pricing flexibility and will be hampered in their ability to deliver innovation, ensure customer satisfaction, and avoid regulatory and legal missteps

So what to do now:

  • Pharma recruiting, training, and talent management must improve with a focus on expertise, competence, and integrity.  Hire and develop “the best” (e.g., world class scientific expertise, visionary leadership with integrity, highly skilled operations personnel) rather than just finding somebody who has done or can do the job.
  • Focus research on comprehensive understanding of diseases rather than just exploiting chemistry and disease targets.  Strive for preventions and cures rather than just developing another compound or molecule to get to the market.
  • The number of pipeline projects is only meaningful in the context of new market expectations.  Products that can not deliver clinically meaningful differentiation should be objectively reevaluated for commercial viability in a more demanding healthcare market. Fewer development programs will make it past this assessment if companies are truly objective and critical in their evaluations.
  • Pipeline target product profiles should define the potential “comparative efficacy“ and the meaningful clinical benefits relative to other therapeutic options
  • Identify and develop plans for securing the specific data needed to substantiate the claims of efficacy, safety, and “value”.  This is not just to meet regulatory requirements but to withstand rigorous, more sophisticated managed market expert assessments.
  • Make companion diagnostics a requirement for pipeline projects
  • Develop managed market expertise throughout the organization not just as commercial function.
  • Develop healthcare system collaborations that allow for understanding, designing, and executing comparative product and treatment assessments in different electronic medical records systems
  • Assume none of the traditional marketing and sales tactics will work (including social media) and then prepare plans for promoting your products in this new healthcare market. For example, think about how electronic medical records and best practice treatment guidelines will influence e-prescribing.  How will you educate a physician population without traditional tactics?
  • Assume that even your most aggressive cost cutting programs in operations will not be enough.  Root out legacy, non-essential expenses as if you were facing bankruptcy.
  • All non-core competencies should be critically evaluated as outsourcing opportunities
  • Invest in expertise, competence, integrity, and high performance systems and equipment to ensure consistent high quality manufacturing (if the company plans to continue manufacturing as a core competency). Invest and retool your processes now for the future.

Critical Success Factors

  • Innovative new products with companion diagnostics
  • Robust real world data to support clinically meaningful differentiation
  • Organizational managed market expertise
  • Talent management focused on expertise, competence, and integrity
  • Low cost, efficient yet reliable operations
  • Commercial programs designed to help healthcare providers and patients realize the full value of the company’s products
  • Become a trusted and credible source of disease and treatment information
  • Patient well-being must be a priority (e.g., patient safety more important than negative impact on sales or potential implications for litigation)
  • Leadership and organizational integrity

The intent here was not to draft a business plan but rather to identify some of the predictable changes of the evolving new healthcare market that will impact Pharma companies.  This was merely to demonstrate that it is possible to anticipate the changes we see evolving in the market and prepare for them if we look forward and take action now.

Now, I’m sure some of you are thinking… ” do you think we are idiots? You made me read all this for nothing.  Obviously, the industry and its executives are doing this.  We have strategic planning groups of MBAs working full time on this stuff.”

Well, I’m pretty sure industry executives thought they were taking care of the future back in the mid-1990’s as well.


How Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will affect Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

There is still considerable debate and experimentation as to how the proposed Accountable Care Organizations will be structured and function.   It is also hard to understand how widespread it will be once implemented. What is known is that as healthcare reform begins to take shape, the push (with financial incentives) for accountability in delivering higher quality care at lower cost will drive a more coordinated approach to comprehensive healthcare for patients.  As a result, hospitals and physicians are beginning to explore the best ways to work together to ensure that the quality of care they deliver will be accurately reflected in whatever measurements the government (CMS) decides to use for evaluation.  ACOs will in theory be rewarded by sharing the cost savings resulting from keeping their enrolled populations healthy and treating their patients efficiently and effectively.

The comprehensive care expectations for Accountable Care Organizations are beyond the capabilities of most solo physician practices or even small groups.  Also, hospitals will need to expand their roles to include better coordinated post hospitalization care to ensure patients continue their recovery without relapse and re-hospitalization.   This integration of care approach is causing some private practice physicians to consider joining larger group practices and encouraging hospitals to reach out to employ and align with the best physicians in their geographic coverage areas.

So how will this affect pharmaceutical sales?

The first implication of Accountable Care Organizations is most likely going to be a further reduction in sales representative access to primary care physicians as they join larger, busier group practices or hospitals.  Representative access to these physicians is  likely to be governed by even more selective product recommendations and administrative policies developed by the Accountable Care Organization.  The impact on physician time with patients and the potential for sales reps to influence expensive branded product use will also affect access decisions.  If representatives can demonstrate value by favorably impacting quality of care or cost reductions, they will find physician access less challenging.

Adoption of best practices and formalizing treatment guidelines will mean physicians will  be less autonomous in their prescribing practices. They will also have a financial vested interest in prescribing cost effective treatments, complying with formularies, and following recommended treatment guidelines established by the Accountable Care Organization. This will make it more difficult for pharmaceutical representatives to directly influence prescribing of products not supported by ACOs.

Electronic health records (a prerequisite for Accountable Care Organizations) will make the real world impact of drugs on provider quality of care and costs more readily available for evaluation.  Electronic medical records and e-prescribing will also allow for managing and monitoring compliance with treatment guidelines. These assessments and compliance monitoring will leave less opportunity for random use of expensive branded products with marginal clinical benefit.  Deviations from treatment guidelines will require justification and could result in reprimand or potentially expose physicians to financial penalties if repeated non-compliance results in increased costs without clinical benefit.

Companies with products that can demonstrate improvements in clinical outcomes (better than alternative treatment options) or reductions in overall healthcare costs will find a much more receptive institutional audience than they might have in the past.  Companies armed with compelling data will be able to influence the inclusion of their products on formularies and in treatment guidelines.  This is especially true for value-priced preventive medicines, vaccines, and companion diagnostics.

Sales representatives with new products or products that are not favorably received by the ACOs in their territories will be faced with the challenge of gaining acceptance.  Unlike having to convince (selling) individual physicians to prescribe your product, formulary and treatment guideline recommendations will be determined by healthcare provider teams with therapeutic and cost benefit expertise.  More importantly, electronic health records will provide these teams with easy to analyze comparative clinical outcomes and cost data from their own organizations, making it even more difficult for companies (and representatives) without comparable data to make their case.  Collective expertise, real world data, and financial incentives for delivering good clinical outcomes at low cost will make for a hostile environment for companies and representatives who are not equally armed with expertise and real world therapeutic and cost benefit data.

On the other hand, if the Accountable Care Organizations feel a product can help them achieve their quality of care and cost savings goals, representatives may be enlisted to assist the ACO achieve its goals.  Representatives could be encouraged to help educate physicians and other healthcare providers about the appropriate use of their product (within treatment guidelines).  They might even be called on to assist with implementing adherence and compliance programs to make sure patients take their medications as directed.  It might even get to a point where products are placed in treatment guidelines contingent on delivering the expected clinical outcomes and cost benefits.  This would require representatives to understand the metrics for assessing their product performance and staying current with how their products are performing (clinical outcomes and cost savings) within that ACO.

Regardless of how the ACOs are structured or how they decide to operate, it will mean a completely different work environment for pharmaceutical sales representatives.


Protecting your Career and Financial Security from Healthcare Market Changes

I don’t know about you but it really bothers me that there are now tens of thousands of ex-pharmaceutical industry employees out of a job.  What really bothers me is that the current state of pharmaceutical industry dysfunction should have never happened and didn’t have to happen in the first place.

Warning: This post is intended to be a genuine offer of help to people who work in or for the pharmaceutical industry through an invitation to purchase Pharmaplasia™.

Are you wondering about the future of the pharmaceutical industry and whether your company is making the right strategic choices to succeed in the evolving new healthcare market?  Do you have the insight and “know-how” to exploit the changing environment to your advantage? Or, are you wondering if the pharmaceutical industry is still the place for you to advance your career, fulfill your professional aspirations, make a living, and support your family?  Are you wondering how long this will last… for you?

As in any dramatically changing market environment (think typewriter manufacturers and sales people in light of the personal computer) you want to stay ahead of the changes so you don’t find yourself with outdated thinking, products with no market, or obsolete skills.

Pharmaplasia™ can help you understand and plan for the changes taking place.  It will help you broaden your perspective, challenge your biases, and give you a context to frame your own conclusions.  And even if you don’t agree with all the findings, Pharmaplasia™ will force you to think through your current situation and its viability in the evolving new healthcare market.

If you work in or for the pharmaceutical industry, understanding the impact of the changing healthcare market and the implications for you personally are critical to your career success and financial security.  Pharmaplasia™ describes the impact of healthcare reform at the functional level of a company with specific recommendations for change in leadership, sales and marketing, research, and operations.

Pharmaplasia™ will help you evaluate your personal situation so you can determine what you should be doing to prepare for the changes so you not only have a job but have a professionally satisfying career with financial security in the evolving new healthcare market. You’ll be able to assess your company initiatives against the strategic scenarios and specific recommendations for change to determine for yourself whether or not your company and its leadership understand what lies ahead and are taking the necessary steps to align with the new market expectations.   Using what you learn from Pharmaplasia™, you can also evaluate other companies to see who in the industry seems to be getting it right.  Who has the pipeline products you think will make it in the new marketplace?

No need to leave your career and personal financial security to chance.  Stay in the industry, stay with your current company, or change?  Stay in your current area of expertise and functional responsibility or prepare for a career change? Change to what?

I invite you to order your copy of Pharmaplasia™ so you have the information you need and a context to evaluate and help make informed, rational decisions about the changing healthcare market and the implications for the pharmaceutical industry and more importantly ….. the implications for you.


Pharmaplasia™, Kindle Edition now available at Amazon.com

As word spreads and the popularity of Pharmaplasia increases so do the requests for more format options.  For those who have been waiting for the convenience of an e-book version of Pharmaplasia, it is now available as the Kindle Edition at Amazon.com ($9.99).

For industry insiders, Pharmaplasia provides a nostalgic look back at the changing pharmaceutical industry over the past five decades.  The book is packed with management and leadership lessons learned as industry veteran Mike Wokasch explores the root causes of mistakes and poor decisions that led to diminished trust and credibility and its current state of dysfunction.  With specific recommendations for change, Pharmaplasia answers many of the questions being asked about how pharmaceutical companies can increase R & D productivity; reduce operating expenses without sacrificing profitability, and what they should do to align with the evolving new healthcare market in light of healthcare reform.

Wokasch’s insightful view of the pharmaceutical industry offers some logical explanations for the volatile changes and disappointment in that once proud business sector. As a senior level insider with access to key decision makers, Mike is able to provide both concrete examples and an educated perspective of the pinnacles and pitfalls surrounding this important segment of our economy and lives. This is a must read for both senior level pharma executives and those aspiring to bring back the real value to this once respected industry.Jim Patchen

(book) Came today and I read it straight thru. YES! I can certainly relate to the things you said in there! I just kept saying, how true, how true!C. Karabin

Order your  Kindle Edition of Pharmaplasia at Amazon.com

How will your Pharma Company do with Healthcare Reform?

People with a job in the pharmaceutical industry are fortunate just to have a job given the current state of unemployment in the US.  At the same time, slow revenue growth, patent expirations, depleted pipelines, and layoffs from downsizings can create anxiety and well founded despair, discontent, and insecurity.

If you’re wondering about your company’s viability in the evolving new healthcare market or considering a move to another company, here are a few things you might want to assess and check out:

  • Does the executive team describe their vision in terms of patients and value to healthcare or do they talk about how big the company will be and what industry ranking by revenues they are shooting for and how they are going to get there?
  • Is your C-level and management team committed to an uncompromised culture of integrity and what have they done to prove it? DOJ Corporate Integrity Agreements don’t count as proof of their commitment.
  • Does your company make decisions based on doing what is right or are decisions driven more by what is legal or what is regulatory compliant?
  • Is your executive team more concerned about just having something to sell and the ability of sales and marketing to drive sales than they are about having innovative products that can deliver meaningful clinical benefits to patients?
  • Is R & D focused on a few therapeutic areas they intend to conquer with a broad basic science approach and a continuous search for expertise to help them or is your company merely searching for any compound or technology that might have a commercial opportunity?
  • Are you proud of your management team, their skill and expertise or are you wondering how in the world they got to be managers?
  • Is your marketing team dominated by MBAs who have never spent a “real day”, much less a year or more, in the field? Market research focus groups don’t count as “real days.”
  • Are the entry requirements for your sales organization based on high standards for professionalism and technical competence or are people hired because they can talk a good story (read BS meter overload) and have exceptional social personality traits (look nice and are very cordial)?
  • Are sales managers focused on the value reps are delivering to their customers or are they still concerned about trying to quantify your activities and deliver the marketing message?

No company is perfect, but if your assessment from these questions are not as reassuring as you might like them to be, you might have good reason to be concerned.   We haven’t even gotten into assessing business considerations like financial stability, pipeline strength, acquisition vulnerability, or litigation exposure.

If you like the answers you got from this assessment you are very fortunate indeed.