Morgan Lewis in our Pharma team muses on what professional satisfaction looks like for him.
As I’m sure you know, before a medicine reaches the people who need it, a number of testing and assessment phases must be passed to prove its efficacy and safety and now, more than ever, its value for money.
This process can easily take 10 or more years and many drugs that start it do not tick enough of the boxes and are therefore discarded, never to see the light of a prescription pad.
Those who do make it have a period of exclusivity – a patent – before other companies are allowed to create copies of the same. Once that patent has expired, however, the stage has to be shared and it’s never quite the same. Sharing the stage sounds much less painful than the regular term used – falling off the patent cliff.
I’ve been working recently on an off-patent medicine that had enjoyed many years of transforming people’s lives, and it still does, but it’s now competing for attention in an increasingly crowded arena. Its golden years are behind it. Shared stage, cliff and all that…
I’m approaching 17 years in the pharmaceutical industry and working on that project, I unexpectedly found myself thinking – do I have a patent cliff? Will I reach a point at which my best years are behind me and the most I can hope for is to just hang on in there, hoping what I do doesn’t get too dull or samey. You know – just going through the motions. No spark.
And I knew quickly that the answer was no, for two reasons.
First, I’m not in healthcare communications and the pharmaceutical industry because I want to be in healthcare communications and the pharmaceutical industry! I want people to be well, and I want to find out what will make them well, whether it’s a behaviour change or a medical intervention or both. This remains true whether working on an integrated comms campaign, meeting people whom that campaign is designed to help, or chatting with a friend over lunch. There will always be people who need help to get well, and I’ll always want to be involved.
Second, Pegasus feels the same way. The biggest cheers for success at staff meetings are when we are able to report that lives have been changed. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big, but always significant and meaningful. And we all need our work to be meaningful, don’t we?
The best days of my working life, in previous employment and with Pegasus, have been when I have heard first hand from people how our activity has changed their lives for the better, whether in the clinical trial arena, or in disease awareness campaigns, or in patient and healthcare professional support programmes.
The more I get to listen to those who need support (people with health conditions and healthcare professionals treating them), to hear their stories and understand what will make a difference, or has made a difference, the happier I am.
I don’t see this changing any time soon, so I can confidently say that there is no personal patent cliff on the horizon for me!