I work for a contract pharmaceutical company. I will not give out its name since I don’t want to be fired…yet. I have a decent, well paying and respectable job. Contract labs like mine are very stressful and at times can be classified as hostile work environments. When big pharmaceutical companies need drugs or compounds tested quickly, they hire us to perform the testing. I know the first question on your mind; don’t they have their own labs that do this?
Pharmaceutical Lab Testing
The answer is yes and no. It is a tricky question. Big pharma is known as big pharma for a reason. They employ large amounts of people and have huge bureaucracies. They don’t deal well with timelines and lab employees aren’t pushed to their limits. Consider them the Cadillacs of industry. Contract labs are the race cars. We have tight timelines and deal with large quantities of sample testing. Employees in big pharma get paid more than us but we have a bigger benefit. We get to test drugs from across the spectrum.
Unlike our bretheren, we don’t lose our jobs when a drug goes off patent or is sold. Our skill set is so varied that we get transferred from one drug to another. As a result of this, big pharma will contract out their testing since a team of ten employees have the knowledge and experience to work with over 100 different drugs. That is our slice of cake. I know my role and enjoy it since I get to see so much of what comes down the pipeline.
So where is the problem? The problem is when management pushes the boundaries of profit to not only save their jobs but to gain bonuses at the expense of others. I know what my responsibility is: to make sure that the drugs are tested appropriately in a timely manner and to make the client happy.
But I think I have the worst upper management team in my working history. I have worked with some bad management teams but these guys are the worst. They will lie, cheat and steal for a $1. They will promise you the land of milk and honey and when you turn your back to envision it, knives are placed right in your back. Morale is so bad that the thought of unemployment is actually positive and no one seems to care. I am not just basing my comments on rumors but on actually witnessing how management performs their job.
Under these conditions, problem arise. Errors are made which could result in a drug not tested properly and get scrapped because of an error. Not just failing but also providing a false positive reaction. There are checks in place but not all will always get caught. The other situation is also true whereby a poor drug component could advance since an error was made to pass it along the drug pipeline.I am a professional and pride myself in my work. I have had minimal (we are human) errors in the past 5 years and can handle the hostile work environment. Others are not as strong as me and they do crack under the pressure. I have witnessed departments fall apart internally to the point of almost fistfights. I have seen coworkers cower in bathrooms crying and others go on medical leave after an emotional breakdown. I have seen stress attacks, fainting spells and mental breakdowns. I see the backstabbing, bickering and lack of leadership. All I can do is grab popcorn and watch the drama unfold.
Do you think you can thrive in this environment?