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  • Writer's pictureAcumen Learning


Over the last twelve months, one industry has dominated the news – you guessed it, the pharmaceutical industry! With the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, the whole world has gotten a glimpse into what it means to work in or with pharmaceuticals. But even with that sneak peek, most of the population has no idea all that goes into the development, testing, approval, and production of a drug – or the risks.

Business Acumen: Pharma Industry

To succeed in any industry, you have to be willing to take calculated risks, and equally as important - be proactive in mitigating these risks when possible. This is ESPECIALLY true in the world of pharmaceuticals. When a company starts working on a drug, they’re taking a risk because the development of a new drug is extremely complex, expensive, and VERY time consuming. In fact, it takes approximately 12 years for an experimental drug to go from the laboratory to end consumers.

To put that into perspective, 12 years ago was 2009. Let’s take a look at some things that happened in 2009… just to refresh our memories:

  • Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after losing both engines shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport

  • The FOURTH “Fast & Furious” movie was released (we’re on like 26 now, right?)

  • Barack Obama was sworn into office - for the FIRST time

  • The movie “Avatar” was released …. So… “Avatar” and the invention, development, testing, and launch of prescription drugs have about the same life cycle

  • The second largest electronics retailer, Circuit City announced the closing of all of its stores

  • Miley Cyrus was Partyin’ in the USA

  • The Balloon Boy hoax made headlines… do you remember that? …no? Just me? Ok…onto the next…

  • We said goodbye to the King of Pop (RIP Michael Jackson)

Ahh, thanks for joining me on my trip down memory lane…man, it’s easy to get lost there. But what I’m trying to say is – 12 years is a REALLY long time. The hardest part is, that when a company begins this journey, they don’t know if they’ll find a solution, and if they do there’s a HUGE chance it won’t make it through trials. In fact, one article I found said that just 5 out of 5,000 drugs that begin clinical testing will make it through to human trials, and of those five only ONE will be approved to go to market. For those doing the math…that’s only one out of 5,000 drugs that actually make it from the laboratory to the market…or, 0.02% chance - risky odds. If there’s a 0.02% chance of rain, I’m heading to the beach without my umbrella or hosting that family BBQ assuming the sun will shine. Which is even more painful when you read that a 2019 study from Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimated that the cost of developing a new prescription medicine is approximately $2.6 billion.

But without diving in and taking a risk, there’s only a very small chance that a cure or treatment will EVER be discovered. So, is it worth the risk?

We know that in this industry, you’re used to taking risks…our team at Acumen Learning is here to help you minimize these risks with business acumen training. I know, you’re wondering how business acumen could possibly help you and your team mitigate risk. Well, easy! We will help your team, no matter their role or level of seniority, speak the language of business with more fluency, make bolder and more profitable decisions, and execute your strategy faster than the competition. These skills will allow your team members to understand how and why your executive team makes decisions, and how they play a role in that. Aligning them with and giving them a better understanding of your business strategy.

If you’re not ready to take that leap into business acumen training yet, that’s ok! Join our next free, one-hour webinar, taking place on Wednesday, June 23 at 11 am (EDT) and see what we can do, live. We’ll be analyzing pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca’s most recent Earnings Call.


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