Pharmaceuticals and Politics

canstockphoto26681353The pharmaceutical world was mentioned a few time in the various Republican Presidential debates. Last night Carly Fiorina spoke about how the 7 year trend of the federal government to inject itself in pretty much everything has led to businesses consolidating in an effort to grow in size and strength ultimately to handle the absurd amount of governmental regulation. As a result of the federal governments increased injection into everything including big business, the landscape of the pharmaceutical world has changed drastically over the past 7 years.

It all started with the new regulations on dry goods. When I first started out in this industry, we were able to hand out, what we called, “dry goods” to offices. Things such as pens, paper towels, coffee mugs, clipboards, and so many other inconsequential items. These items had the logo of your product adorning the item as a marketing tool. The federal governments thoughts on dry goods was that it created a quid pro quo type situation where the thought (in their ridiculous minds) was that if you gave a physician a pen with your products logo on it/she, he may be prompted give you a script. On its surface this is completely laughable!! As pharmaceutical reps we all knew that these items, though appreciated by the offices, didn’t lead to increased scripts….and if it did, that physicians who in fact hypothetically traded a script for a pen is completely useless a physician.

Around the same time, regulation came down that you could no longer take a physician to a one-on-one dinner, nor could a spouse be involved in anything including a speaker program. This one may influence scripts and perhaps they have a point when they did away with it, but it was becoming evident that the industry was changing and was becoming more and more scrutinized. The wild wild west days in the pharmaceutical world were over!!

Then of course we had Obamacare which is way too complicated in its entirety to understand, but on its surface, it basically mandates that employers offer health insurance to its employees when it hits a certain amount of employees. It goes without saying that a small business that is growing in size but not a multi-million dollar organization may be hindered with its growth if in fact it is forced to administer something that is an added expenditure.

Additionally in an effort to gain increased results and play politics, many are simply thrown (unknowingly) into a plan just by searching the Obamacare marketplace. For example I recently moved to Florida from New York City. Having left a position to move down to Florida, as a family man, naturally I wanted to understand my options with health care insurance. So I went online to check out my options, do some research, and shop around. I did not purchase insurance. A few weeks later however, I received two pieces of mail that showed me that my two children were now on Florida State Medicaid. Shocked, I called every number I could find on the forms I was sent and after many automated machines and terrible customer service I finally got to a Regional Director who told me that in fact if you just shop on the site you become enrolled as a means to increase the “numbers” to make Obamacare look like a success. Absolutely scathing if you ask me…completely underhanded and politics at its worst!!

Lastly, as mentioned above, in the very recent past and of course in the future we have seen (and will see) so many companies simply coming together to make larger companies. With size comes power and increased money and political clout, but at what cost to the rank and file workers, you the pharmaceutical reps? For some they have seen their positions done away with and for others they have seen increased opportunity. But make no mistake about it, these consolidations are a direct result of governmental policy. We can look at the many companies that have gone through multiple rounds of layoffs, major companies in the industry ceasing to exist because of acquisitions, many others turning to contract sales before committing money to increasing in-house sales forces. The political influence is endless.

The question simply is….are they (the government) looking out for the America people with their increased injection into everything we do, or is it that there are some who can gain from widespread policy changes? Perhaps the biggest of businesses (those that consolidate and come together making a larger entity) are able to maneuver through regulation more easily and benefit the most from it. Whereas the smaller business either gets eaten up or fails leaving many in the wake!

With the upcoming election, we will see where the next 4 to 8 years takes us, but we can be sure that the industry that we once knew is no longer and the industry of the future is ever changing!!