Pharmaceutical Musketeers – ”One for all and all for One“
About the writer:
Stuart Hardy – Tribal Leader New Cannibals
Former Director of Executive Education at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership and Independent Creative Transformation specialist with over 35 years business, organisational and people development experience in Fortune 500 companies worldwide. He has been advising WEFRA LIFE on transformation for 12 months.
Starting from patenting strategies, the pharmaceutical industry (by definition profit-oriented like any other private industry) strives to differentiate drugs, so as to maximize the return on R&D expenditure during the global period of monopoly, and hamper price competition even when drugs with overlapping efficacy are already on the market. This has historically created almost a toxic level of competition.
Despite that, collaboration across Pharmaceuticals is not a new concept. In a world dominated by the ‘pipeline’ mindset it is no surprise that initial ideas centred around shared facilities. GSK opened its Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery as early as 2007, and Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson currently have their expanding eco-systems of innovation Centres Worldwide.
This trend evolved over time into collaborative research projects – for example half of GSK’s R&D budget is now allocated to biopharma collaborations. Even Harvard University estimates that at least 5 % of its funding is derived from industry partnerships.
Finally, even as early as 2005 we have seen a shift towards co-marketing approaches – for example Pfizer, Yamanouchi and others teamed up to drive nearly $13B in global sales of Lipitor and AstraZeneca and Merck paired on nearly $6B in sales of Nexium to name a few. However, all of these ‘collaborative’ initiatives have been designed to optimise the existing pipeline business – exemplified by co-marketing initiatives almost exclusively confined to geographical market penetrations.
‘inside-out’ vs ‘outside-in’ business.“
However as 2020 looms in the oncology market in particular, there is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing that will challenge big pharma to re-think ‘inside-out’ vs ‘outside-in’ business, to an extent that profits might finally be put to one side in the name of patient-centricity.
The challenge to the ‘mindset’ of historically competitive pharma, will be enormous as clinical results will come before dollars, and old rivalries put aside – and yet this should be an easier pill to swallow than previous collaborative efforts as it comes amidst a ground swell of ‘social purpose’ thinking at the ‘C’ Level. We live in a world where there is a growing recognition that the true beneficiaries of pharmaceutical and other industry efforts, exist in a wider ecosystem than boards and shareholders. Human health, age and longevity are globally significant topics – in which medicine is a key-player.
Agencies like WEFRA LIFE will play a pivotal role in the future – in assisting pharma giants create more meaningful relationships with patients and providers, as well as driving new and creative sources of revenue, forged through collaborative eco-systems – that are curated by innovative employees driven by a sense of belief in the future of the human race.