What will Santa bring pharma this year?

With Christmas around the corner, Jacky Law reflects on what Santa could possibly bring pharma at a time of saturated markets and constant downward pressure on prices….

Santa’s Grotto: Santa is scratching his head wondering what on earth he can conjure up for the CEO of a major pharma company at this festive time. He knows things are hard with doctors no longer free to prescribe the best and most expensive medicines. He also knows that patients rarely follow what doctors say, making it much harder to demonstrate that the drugs do what they say they will. And, on another level entirely, that social media is fast democratising the process by which societies decide what drugs are actually needed and what works best.

As if this wasn’t enough, Santa is well aware that a digital world makes things harder in other ways, not least by providing data that shows how well drugs perform in the real world rather than merely that of a clinical trial, making them infinitely harder to sell and requiring all sorts of different kinds of data. The truth, Santa can’t help but conclude, is that everyone is now in the medicines business and pharma companies have no choice but to adapt. But how? What can Santa actually do?

 

“…a digital world makes things harder in other ways, not least by providing data that shows how well drugs perform in the real world rather than merely that of a clinical trial…”

As Santa ponders this difficult scenario ad elf masquerading as a patient enters the Grotto:

SANTA: What do you want from the CEO of a major company?

PATIENT ELF: Drugs that do new things, that don’t have side-effects, that are cheap and significantly improve my quality of life.

SANTA: That’s impossible.

PATIENT ELF: What about Viagra?

SANTA: That was a one-off. Have you any idea how much it costs to produce a new drug?

PATIENT ELF: I don’t care because I don’t trust the companies that produce the figures. Come to think of it, I don’t trust the data from the trials that cost all that money to make a new drug.

Santa recognises the problem as one of trust and figures An Idiot’s Guide to Dialogue might be a good present for any pharma CEO. At that moment Patient Elf leaves and Consultant Elf enters the Grotto:

SANTA: What do you want from the CEO of a major company?

CONSULTANT ELF: Drugs that do new things, that don’t have side-effects, that are cheap and significantly improve the quality of life of my patients.

SANTA: That’s impossible.

CONSULTANT ELF: What about Viagra?

SANTA: That was a one-off. Have you any idea how much it costs to produce a new drug?

CONSULTANT ELF: I don’t care because I don’t trust the companies that produce the figures. Come to think of it, I don’t trust the data from the trials that cost all that money to make a new drug.

Santa’s idea of An Idiot’s Guide to Dialogue is confirmed not only by Consultant Elf but also by identical conversations with Hospital Manager Elf, Insurance Company Elf, even NICE Elf, a representative from the various health technology agencies that are springing up all over the place.

Santa continues to scratch his head. While he is convinced that An Idiot’s Guide to Dialogue is the perfect present for a pharma CEO at the end of 2013, he also knows it doesn’t have anything like the same appeal of a blockbuster, a new way of treating diabetes, for example, that the entire world wants. And isn’t Christmas a time of getting what you really, really want?

 

“Sadly, Santa’s powers, great as they are, don’t extend to producing blockbusters.”

Sadly, Santa’s powers, great as they are, don’t extend to producing blockbusters. So he has no choice but to go with his gut and create the cheapest Christmas present ever with just three words emailed to all his favourite pharma CEOs: DIALOGUE, DIALOGUE, DIALOGUE. This is followed by a second which reads: LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. And, finally, a third, which reads: ACT, ACT, ACT.

He then leans back, pops a statin, and contemplates when he should get his reindeers ready…

SANTA: HO! HO! HO! And a very Happy Christmas to all our readers!

 

 

About the author:

A veteran of Scrip Magazine, Pharmaceutical Executive and FirstWord, Jacky Law joins pharmaphorum in 2014 as Managing Editor of premium media. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Closing thought: What do you think Santa will bring pharma this year?