The only way is ethics
Despite what I can only consider to be one of my finest puns. This is a more serious blog that usual and one that comes after my biggest absence from blog writing in almost 5 years. Its time for a resurgence and as I am on holiday from tomorrow, I have vowed that I shall get back to the keyboard and get word-pressed again.
Sitting in The French House with a Change Consultant I met at Central St Martin’s, we got chatting about the respective reputations of the industries we have worked in. My company had worked across oil, banking, Microsoft and a much more diverse corporate world than I have to date. When we got into The Hive Group, the conversation typically shifted to pharma’s reputation, selling life and of course the usual Constant Gardner discussion.
It was only when we started to discuss the drug development cycle, was it apparent that the model, whilst far from perfect, has been successful when it comes to bringing patient benefit to life in our very real world. From CML drugs to new surgical proceedures, the profit motive and doing good by doing good has delivered a stack of life. The fascinating part of the conversation was the proximity we both had to people who had needed those innovations – notably in cancer. When discussed those close to ourselves, and crisis requirements, then the profit motive seems to be more acceptable. Move away from our own families to a societal level and the conceptual approach and a desire for a utopian world was in my drinking partners view morally much more acceptable. Clearly, keeping Society away from an individual level is permissible mist a solid session of half pints!
With recent news of huge fines and further coverage of us evil drug pedlars it’s been interesting to see the impact that this has had. It certainly increased the number of conversations I have had with friends and ‘bumpers’ about what we do as an industry.
For the last 4 weeks I have working closely with a team of contractors, builders, carpenters and associated trades on our new office (more to follow) Mid way through a on site morning meeting, there was some concern voiced that our business was going to be impacted by the news of the fines being paid in the US. Their concern was about the impact this would have on the people they see in our agency – the real world of healthcare business people. People not across the Atlantic or in corporate towers, but in the same postcode – local people who do good by doing good, or earn profit whilst making people better – depending on your view point.
Where the bubble of ‘anti’ has risen is in the more recent candidates we have interviewed for entry level postions. The news clearly lessens the supply of graduates who through in my view is a misguided moral view, would rather not work for a equivalent of Barclays Bank. Regardless of the naivety of this. It does prevent us from having a conversation about innovation, models of developing medicines and past performance of the sausage machine of health.And the simple fact is that is reduces down the talent pool for an industry that desperately needs young thinking and fresh perspectives. I still feel the industry should be confident and cynical enough to be exploring new sustainable drug development methodologies whilst not being shy to admit that profit is a motive in the purest sense if you believe that without it the system can be efficient enough to be as life saving as it has.