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The US Election, Pharma, and the Future

Posted on November 14th, 2016 by in Pharma R&D


What happened this year?  I always thought that even though change can happen quickly, the geopolitical environment would be at a slower, perhaps even glacial pace. Well this year, 2016, has challenged that assumption. Looking back over history, the significant impact of events have become clear. However, for those living through the events, it may have not been so clear, or even imagined. I think 2016 is one of these times.

2016 has been emotional and often dramatic. The year started with the passing of individuals who made significant contributions to the arts; David Bowie, for one. In June there was a significant moment when the British people voted for Brexit. This week, the American people spoke, and voted Donald J. Trump for President.

All these events have happened against the back-drop of some significant armed conflicts and mass migration of peoples across borders.

Certainly interesting times.

What stands out for me in all this are two key themes. The first is the impact that an individual can have. This is in many areas, not just in provoking intense emotions that can range from jubilation to despair, but also in how people view their immediate future and the subsequent decisions and trade-offs they may take. Not to mention achieving some very unlikely goals. The second is that there seems an overwhelming message of dissatisfaction among many voters which is directed at the system and the establishment. Listening to the media coverage of these political events, it seems that some people are feeling left behind and kicking back against the establishment and who they see as the “fat cats” keeping the cream.

I am sure this will be analyzed in some detail over the next few months. However, what does this mean for Pharma R&D?

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is that old paradox. Everything has changed, yet nothing has really changed. The industry is still facing the same issues, such as how to develop new medicines and a cost effective and efficient manner to increase productivity? How to create market access in a range of countries with different needs, payment schemes, and demands? How to develop new methods of payment and reimbursement to meet the new technologies that have the potential to cure individuals? And there are many more. We need to focus on the reality of now and focus on managing the changes that are no doubt due to follow.

In dealing with change, we need to recognize where we are as individuals on the change process and find ways to manage the uncertainty that it brings. It is a time for strong leadership, support for people, and developing a clear vision of what the future could look like.

In my time in the Industry, I have had many conversations with people who see the big companies as part of the establishment, fat cats who make huge profits on products of limited value. Perhaps it is more important than ever to focus attention on what we bring to society, focusing on the real world value and effectiveness and bringing people along on the journey of what new technologies such as gene technology can bring.

I suggest this is not just sharing facts and figures, but really listening to what our ultimate customers want and desire from our products. The future R&D needs to focus on what they want from their experience of taking pharmaceutical products and understand and match the value they place on that.

One thing we can all rely on is change.


All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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