With 2017 right around the corner, how did 2016 stack up for the pharmaceutical industry? What does it mean for the future of the industry? What about those who are looking for a career in pharma and are looking for pharmaceutical sales jobs?
A big question mark will be how the pharmaceutical industry responds to the negative stories and events of the past year and how it moves forward, turning uncertainty into opportunity. Below are 10 New Year’s resolutions that we think are needed by the pharmaceutical industry in order to steer 2017 in the right direction.
Being honest about high salaries for CEO and top executives. To average folks, the numbers are simply astounding. Drug prices are constantly rising, and so are the salaries of top executives. Why is the price of medicine so high? Why does the average CEO need to make nearly $15 million per year (higher than all other major business sectors)? This has led to a high level of distrust and a belief that these top-level execs are downright greedy. There must be a happy medium.
Fixing the price-fix problem. As reported by Investing News Network, Mylan is one of the many pharmaceutical companies taken to task for its pricing strategies in 2016. In early November, generic pharma stocks plummeted after news broke that the Department of Justice could charge several major drug manufacturers with price collusion by year’s end. Over a dozen companies and two dozen drugs are currently under investigation, accused of conspiring to coordinate price hikes. Federal antitrust regulators were requested to examine price increases on insulin and diabetes drugs, among others, to determine if price-fixing is actually occurring.
Meeting growing customer expectations. The commercial environment is getting harsher, as healthcare payers impose new cost constraints on healthcare providers and scrutinize the value that medicines offer much more carefully. They want new therapies that are clinically and economically better than the existing alternatives, together with hard, real-world outcomes data to back any claims about a medicine’s superiority (PwC).
Resolving the EpiPen controversy. Outrage continues to grow over the soaring cost of Mylan’s EpiPen, a life-saving device for children and others with severe allergies. According to CNBC, The price has jumped from about $100 for a two-pack in 2008 to approximately $600 today. What’s worse is that they have a shelf life of approximately one year, so they must be replaced every year. Even Martin Shkreli, who became the poster boy for jacking up drug prices, called Mylan executives “vultures” for the price hike. Mylan’s main competitor, Auvi-Q went off the market last year, contributing to the price hike.
Moving past Martin Shkreli and Daraprim. Called the “most hated man in America” by several news and media outlets, the now-former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, came to the nation’s attention when Turing raised the price of Daraprim, one of a handful of drugs used in the treatment of HIV, to as high as $750 per pill. Shkreli stepped down from his position in December of last year after his arrest on securities fraud charges, but has yet to cave to the public pressure to lower the company’s price for Daraprim (Quartz). Turing Pharmaceuticals certainly has their work cut out for them if they ever want to regain the public’s trust or favor within their industry, and Shkreli may never escape the ridicule he faces now.
Beating dramatic cost inflation. Drug prices have reached dangerously high levels (as highlighted by the recent EpiPen and Daraprim controversies). Leading pharma companies should actively be promoting advances that help to contain costs – particularly those that balance clinical innovation with sustainability. A greater emphasis must be placed on driving value and patient outcomes. There are several ways pharma can influence a value-based model, both clinically and financially. Ideally, consumers will play an active role in pharmacy decision-making going forward. Plans that leverage strategies such as educational programs, formulary management, cost-sharing and more can drive consumer engagement, maximize value and lower costs (Express Scripts).
Clearing up donations. Pfizer elected to make what would seem like a surefire positive PR move recently by donating one million free flu vaccinations to Doctors Without Borders, but it backfired big time when the organization rejected the charitable donation, according to Investing News Network. In a public explanation, Doctors Without Borders’ Executive Director, Jason Cone, argued that both GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer had artificially inflated the price of this vaccine for years, and that accepting donations like this would enable drug manufacturers to continue their questionable pricing policies. In November, the Pfizer agreed to lower the cost of its pneumococcal vaccine.
Migrating from population to personalized health. To produce the best possible outcomes, precise, real-time data and insights are needed – and pharmacy data is often considered the best predictor of a patient’s health. Leveraging pharmacy data to make smarter healthcare decisions will be critical as the industry looks to improve clinical outcomes while lowering costs (Express Scripts). Efficiency in a variety of areas will help keep costs much more affordable, especially for prescription medicines.
Recovering from the Allergan/Pfizer merger failure. When the plan for these two giants to merge was put to bed early in 2016 by new U.S. Treasury rules, other potential mergers were put on hold. Simply put, the regulations were implemented to prevent “inversion deals,” where an American company moves abroad in order to pay lower taxes (Investing News Network). The move was a major win for the Obama administration, which had been vocal about the need to curtail tax avoidance strategies by American companies. The merger failure proved an unfortunate reality to many people: big pharma is sometimes more about expanding business than helping patients.
Going high-tech. As the most widely used benefit, pharmacy can deliver a high-tech and high-touch experience that today’s patients demand, according to Express Scripts. Savvy plan sponsors are offering remote and digital pharmacy solutions such as telehealth, remote monitoring, mobile applications, home delivery and more, as a way to continuously reach patients where they are and virtualize pharmacy. High-tech and high-touch generally results in quicker, more direct care while eliminating unnecessary time delays and added costs.
Pharmaceuticals must move forward by adopting and accepting these New Year’s resolutions in order to grow their industry while improving their reputation. Despite some of this year’s obvious black eyes, the pharmaceutical industry is poised to see continued growth and expansion well into 2017, and landing a pharmaceutical sales job is one way to influence potential customers and patients in a positive way.