Skip to comments.Big Pharma's stalled R&D machine
Posted on 06/16/2010 12:20:08 PM PDT by Nachum
* No more new drugs today than 60 years ago
* Diversification push as blockbusters stumble
* 200,000 jobs could go across the industry
* Can biotech and contract research pick up the pieces?
LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - At just 28, Duncan Casey has already been from the university science bench to the world of Big Pharma research and back again. Now working in an Imperial College lab tucked behind London's famous Science Museum, he has no illusions about the prospects for researchers in the pharmaceutical industry.
"The unit I used to work in -- GlaxoSmithKline's place in Harlow -- has been closed down now," says Casey, dressed in signature protective goggles and white coat as he works on synthetic chemistry. "It used to be a job for life. Now it's a job until the next restructuring."
(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...
I’ve worked in Big Pharma for 20 years. We thought job security was one of the perks, and it was, until about five years ago. Now most of us wait for the shoe to drop at some point before retirement.
Welcome! Engineers have been here for a while.
That story was in the Daily Mail recently.
One has to sell a lot of pills just to pay for the patent and FDA hurdles. Some of these drugs are just not that easy or cheap to make, either.
Sure, as a consumer I am often enraged by the prices, but I did work in that industry myself, once, and saw the other side of it.
I know. We have half the number of engineering staff today as opposed to 10 years ago. My job is in operations/production, and if we have nothing new coming through the pipeline, as our brand drugs go generic, we're going to be in big trouble.
That’s why I’m going back to school for an MBA.
The FDA started nailing the coffin shut years ago and now Obama has sealed the deal with Obamacare.
Wait until they get ahold of dietary supplements.
Generics are the only real hope for Big Pharma now.
Computer Science isn't without competition or employment issues either. There are even a few jackasses that want to force software engineering into the same mold as civil and mechanical engineering. A track to become a licensed professional engineer with all the attendant financial liability that comes with signing off a design for a bridge. It's IEEE, ACM and other union-minded control freaks. No thanks. The field morphs so fast that a given body of knowledge is obsolete in 6 months to a year.
MBAs and JDs seem to be the hot degrees for Pharma people these days. Two good friends of mine went back to school and are now patent attorneys in the industry.
I'm closing in on 50, and hope to hang on for 10 more years.
Choose your school carefully. There are two standards for MBA. The one used by the University of Phoenix is not held in high esteem. The one used at Idaho State University is the one that is preferred. Check the two schools, identify the standard and make sure your choice of schools uses the preferred standard. There's no point in paying big bucks and expending time on a degree that isn't respected by others in the industry.
My sympathies. I got out of that game a little over five years ago and never looked back. Took a pay cut, exercised the stock options, broke clean. I’ve stayed in touch with my ex-colleagues and those who weren’t RIFfed are now working for the company they outsourced to. What a life.
Isn’t most of the actual research done by the NHIC, which is supported with our tax dollars? The pharma companies are basically marketing companies.
Socialize the costs, privatize the profits.
Bingo. Take away incentive, and you stifle innovation. Back in the USSR..
I left Big Pharma 10 years ago, never looked back.
The author has a point about generics. Most of the time spent from patent approval to sales is taken up by FDA approval. You have less than half the time to make your money than you do in other industries.
Dollar for dollar, headache for headache and hour for hour, some of the best compensated people in Pharma are manufacturing operators and the maintenance crews that serve them. With a bit of overtime, we've got 30 year old, high school educated guys in manufacturing pulling down $70k.
I wonder what if the University of Dallas MBA is respected.
Actually I’m going to a UGA-Terry College of Business program here in Atlanta. On-line schools are nothing but a scam. Only 6 more months and I am done. Even though I plan to take a few extra classes that I couldn’t fit into my schedule.
Science for the most part sucks as a profession. You are caught between management and the FDA with little recognition or room for advancement.
One is better off using those analytical skills in a business environment. If I had it to do again, I would not have majored in Chemistry.
Less government research than you think, unless it's the political darling of the day (think AIDS from 1985-1995, or various narcotics in the '70s. Today's darlings are medical devices.)
My company put 23% of net profit back into R&D last year.
No doubt. We recently started full commercial production on a product I remembered running in PD testing 12 years ago.
12 years. Sounds right to me!
Except for antibiotics. A new antibiotic begins to decline in effectiveness as soon as it is in use and R&D has to be continuous to replace each new antibiotic with a newer more effective one. Once there is no more R&D then in a generation we will be medically back to 1910 or so- you get sick you die. And it is not just that our little illnesses become big fatal ones- all hospitals will become deathtraps and operations will not be done except when necessary immediately to save the life of the patient(if the deciding bureaucrat determines the patient is worth more economically alive than dead) and mortality will be very high.
The reason I'm familiar with the issue is that my son graduated with a BS in Business Administration from University of Phoenix. He is eligible for a reduced cost for his MBA classes at UoP. After some investigation into job opportunities for persons with an MBA, the accreditation issue came up. He discovered UoP didn't have the preferred accreditation. Now that he is an Idaho resident, he has the option to pursue the MBA in town at ISU. His real estate business is doing well, so he should be able to salt away enough to cover the MBA before jumping into the program.
This is the big down side to taking money from medicine. When it isn’t profitable to develope new drugs and ways to treat illnesses they no longer are pursued. We now will be forever stuck with the same treatments we’ve had except if they are too expensive. Pray no one you know comes down with anything too expensive to treat.
When I was in grad school, I had a look around at folks doing what I was pursuing. The academics spent time teaching classes, publishing papers and chasing grants. The industrial employees weren't compensated much better. I can apply my EE/CS skills to problems with sufficient scale to actually repay the cost of the effort many fold. It's enjoyable and there is always another problem lurking to solve.
Hence the low prices of these same drugs in other countries, and the rise of internet pharmacies. And when patents expire, it's a free-for-all.
Free-for-all as in Free Market.Without the stratospheric prices for new drugs that recover the R&D expenses for Big Pharma there would be no new drugs. So instead of having to wait out the Patent period the to get the new drugs for the rare diseases there would simply be no new drugs at all and those rare diseases would never become curable. The inability to understand that there is a future- the Right Now or not at all attitude is compatible with Obamacare and will kill R&D and cut off development of new cures not to mention bring to an end the development of new antibiotics to replace the extant ones that are declining in usefulness as the pathogens mutate immunities. Can you imagine a world without effective antibiotics? Your children will see it and maybe you will if you are young.
But just because somebody with an NHIC grant figured out that stimulating/blocking a particular receptor MIGHT have a therapeutic effect is a LONG LONG LONG (and expensive) ways away from designing a drug that will do so that has good drug properties, no or low side effects, etc.
If you think pharma companies just take NHIC research and market it as their own; then drug discovery would be so easy that EVERYBODY would be doing it.
Your characterization of them as marketing companies might be true of some of the “giants”, but they get new drugs not from some privileged NHIC pipeline, but from purchasing smaller pharma companies that look to have “hit gold”.
Drug research is a lot like mining for gold. Lots of austerity and hard work before you ever see even a gleam of ‘color’, and striking a ‘mother load’ is a rare event.
I heard about such a world from my grandparents. Children died like flies.
I am old enough so I probably will not see it, and that's fine with me.
People nostalgic for the Gay '90's, the Titanic Era, the Roaring '20's, etc, forget that there was no penicillin till 1928. Cut yourself, step on a dirty nail, give birth, and commonly die.
I have no doubt that we could solve cancer, but where is the payoff, where is the money to be spent doing it? The government takes, and takes, and takes, while people die from things we could invent the technology to cure.
While more effective treatments for cancer have and will continue to be developed (and there is plenty of payoff in that, both for the customer in terms of longer and better life, and the company selling the treatment), we are a long ways away from any sort of solution that would “solve” the problem of cancer.
DNA mutates. It is a fact of life. Life itself is a mutagenic process. Some mutations are going to cause cancer. It is as simple as that.
“How do you stop DNA from mutating?”
Who says that is the solution?
The only way to “solve” cancer would be to stop DNA from mutating and that is impossible.
The only way to “treat” cancer is to kill the mutated cells.
The problem is that almost anything that is toxic to a cancer cell will also be toxic to your unmutated cells.
Thus the quest for the “magic bullet” that will kill only cancer cells.
We have made great strides in treating cancer, but the only way to not get cancer in the first place is to ensure that your DNA doesn't mutate.
DNA always mutates.
I have been pounding this nail for so long as socialized medicine has been a real possibility in America and you are the first other person to show any understanding of or concern for it at all. To me it is the primary issue in Socialied Medicine for the Last medical free market. No one else seems able to conceive of it being any problem at all, even on FR.
The return of Plagues is the Unthinkable, almost literally. It seems like the Stone Age.
Add to that, 10% are unemployed and 16% underemployed, we had a fascist coupe d'etat, and people are concerned about having to live like beasts and grub for roots and berries after being looted and plundered, so it is no wonder no one wants to think beyond a fifteen-year horizon.
Depopulation by plagues, added to the intended euthanasia of oxygen wasters like me, and Politbureau-furnished abortion will delight the Gaea Crowd, as we return to a pristine Pleistocene, without evil SUV's and a teeming mass of humanity to annoy the Great Mother.