February 05, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute, released yesterday, sheds some light on the current resource needs of pharmaceutical companies. Namely, human resources.
Now, the previous statement might sound odd, as large scale layoffs were the norm the past few years. Facing one of the steepest patent cliffs in recent memory (just in 2012, nine blockbusters came off patent in the US, with a total $35.1bn in sales at risk), from 2009 to 2012 150,000 people were fired, as pharma companies got leaner and leaner in order to contain costs.
In some cases, the layoffs were aimed at increasingly unnecessary positions. The largest number of cuts were in 2009, affecting mainly sales representatives. However, these cuts eventually extended into the scientific community and left the pharmaceutical industry with a talent gap.
Now, CEO’s worldwide perceive this as a big threat for the future of their companies. In an increasingly competitive market, these talent gaps can be costly to a company’s ability to succeed in the current outcomes-based healthcare model, and CEO’s are afraid of not being able to recruit top talent.
PwC report, created with data from a survey conducted with human capital, R&D leaders and 130 US industry leaders, shows what R&D skills are the most sought after by companies for the next three years.
In first place are the skills for developing and managing outside partnerships. This comes as a no-brainer, as joint ventures between companies become more common (the case of Eliquis for example), and emerging markets present new market opportunities, or, in the case of India, headaches.
In second place are regulatory affairs skills. The pharma business is moving more and more towards an outcomes model. Drugs must be able to justify their price and show good performance in outcomes studies. Alongside the new rules established by the 2012 FDA safety and innovation act, and the new clinical trials regulation in Europe, people skilled in regulatory affairs are needed.
Biomedical engineers come in third place, as their broad skill set is more and more sought after by companies.
Fourth place and fifth place go to bio-informatics/data-analytics and health economics outcomes research, respectively. These are closely intertwined with regulatory affairs, as bio informatics and market access professionals are critical in pricing and reimbursement affairs, both essential in the outcomes driven market.
The rest of the report is a fascinating read, and you can find it through here (registration needed).