GSK Woes Raise Big Pharma R&D Question
GSK's various thwarted efforts to boost productivity through R&D revamps begs the question whether big pharma should be trying to do in-house discovery and early development at all.
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President Trump's Operation Warp Speed initiative aims to have a COVID-19 vaccine available by the end of the year; Slaoui, who helped get the first cervical cancer vaccine to market and win European approval of the first malaria vaccine while at GlaxoSmithKline, is tasked with coordinating the government's contributions to coronavirus vaccine effort and achieving what would be twin scientific and manufacturing miracles.
Drug pricing and access issues expose the pharmaceutical sector especially acutely to calls for companies to meet ethical and social goals, alongside commercial ones. Digital is up-ending pharma’s processes, its workplaces and its consumers. R&D productivity is spluttering. Amid this turmoil, CEOs highlight company culture – the way an organization behaves – as a crucial ingredient for success. But what is a “right” culture? Organizational culture is neither static nor singular. It is continuously influenced by acquisitions, markets, new technologies and new generations. And pharma’s history suggests that culture change cannot happen without sufficient people change.
Experiments are underway to solve pharma’s well-documented R&D productivity crisis. The industry is no longer focused only on buying new drugs via M&A, or on outsourcing discovery. Companies are also building new channels through which to access innovation, setting up different kinds of partnerships, and using new kinds of data. The shift involves re-thinking pharma’s place in healthcare.