Being in the center of pharmaceutical testing has its ups and downs. On the one hand, you are exposed to the latest drug development including medical devices that will change the lives of people. The technological advances thanks to computers in pharmaceutical testing are amazing. But on the other hand, there is a dark side of pharmaceutical testing that can be very scary. Here are some facts about the pharmaceutical industry.
Presidential Politics are Nothing Compared to Pharmaceutical Politics
Watching the debates and how elections unfold, it is amazing how people begin to choose sides based on their thoughts or values. The same process exists in pharmaceutical companies. There are people who think promotion is based on merit. For the most part it is true for lower level employees. Once you reach certain levels of management, then it becomes about who you support in the management structure. You basically align your interests with that of your superiors who promoted you. This is the team building structure generated in pharmaceutical companies.
As their fortunes rise, those who support the team rise as well. Of course, loyalty comes into play and you do everything you can to protect your team. Does this have a familiar ring? The lower level employees become the lambs so to speak. If a mistake occurs, the upper team management doesn’t get the blame, the lower level workers do. I see a lot of downsizing of workers in pharmaceutical companies but few mid level managers especially when their leader rises to the head of a division.
The fun comes in when two or more individuals are going after the same promotion. Then you see office politics in action and warring factions. Everyone tries to make the look poorly or blame gets transferred around for poor decisions. The losing side gets demotions, job losses or increased workloads, while the winner promotes his team. I have heard or witnessed many cases whereby office politics trump merit. Where managers were put into a position they couldn’t handle or were under qualified. Office politics gets worse the larger the organization.
Can you see how the health of the patient gets lost?
Fear Reigns Supreme
Now that I have established some of the dynamics in pharmaceutical companies, let us consider another element that breaks down an organization: fear. Fear is probably the worst enemy of pharmaceutical testing. The fear of making a decision will grind testing to a halt. Even basic decisions such as which tests to perform will create fear in an organization. Let me see if I can explain.
Assume that testing is performed a drug X to be released onto the market. Prior to release, one of the standard test fails but all others pass. Usually a process is in place when this happens. But when everyone is second guessing and judging every decision made, that process comes to a grinding halt. As an example, Quality Control would create a meeting with the production manager to determine what to do. Production manager second guesses himself and kicks it up to upper management. Upper management gets involved with several more meetings before a resolution is agreed to. In the meantime, weeks have passed and the drug X sits in a warehouse.
In most organizations, the simple answer is to retest the drug in triplicate to determine if the result is accurate. Everyone knows this answer but the fear of getting it wrong and be blamed for it is too great. Although the answer is simple, the hard part is determining the proper course of action which will not result in a negative image. But hey, at least the public is protected from bad drugs.