For the last time, we dip into our extensive collection of back issues to see what was happening in the pharma industry and the world five years and ten years ago.
In June 2008, the UK Parliament ratified the EU’s Lisbon Treaty even as the recession bit deeper and new mortgage approvals reached a record low. In the US, Barack Obama gained the Democratic Party’s nomination as Presidential candidate. Cinema audiences watched a lovestruck pair of robots saving the planet and a green-skinned giant struggling with anger management issues. UK music reached a nadir of tedium with number 1 albums from Coldplay and Paul Weller, while the US grooved to new tunes from disco legend Donna Summer.
The lead article in the June Pf, ‘Sexism and the City’, noted that more than 30,000 women in the UK lost their jobs each year as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. The article described a pattern whereby male corporate executives relied on their wives to sort out family life for them, while female corporate executives either had no family life or saw their prospects unfairly cut down.
Other features looked at the new Care Quality Commission, how pharma companies can build productive relationships with key opinion leaders, and how good company leaders connect with the thoughts and needs of their workforce. The first article in an important new series, ‘Partnership in practice’, examined Roche’s award-winning HER2 testing initiative as an example of joint working with the NHS.
Industry news included the launch of GSK’s breast cancer drug Tyverb, which coincided with a report showing that breast cancer screening greatly improved the survival chances of women in whom the condition was diagnosed early. Also launched in the UK were Novartis’ targeted cancer drug Tasigna and Lundbeck’s insomnia treatment Circadin. Schering-Plough was ranked 24th in the top 50 ‘Best Places to Work’ survey.
June 2003 was a month of optimism in a dark year. Poland and the Czech Republic voted to join the EU. The US Supreme Court ruled that anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional. The SARS epidemic waned. The cinema showed London overrun with the lethal carriers of a rage-inducing virus; how this differed from an average day in the capital was not clear. It was a great month for ‘alternative’ music, with albums from the haunting Tindersticks, the atonal Mogwai, the bleak Gillian Welch and the invincible Metallica.
The June Pf had no named editor but was a strong issue. The lead article, ‘Devolved Nations’, analysed the differences between the health systems – and their impact on pharma sales strategy – in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Other articles examined the challenges of becoming a first line sales manager and the new GP revalidation procedure developed in the wake of the Shipman case.
A profile of Lundbeck described its ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos, its ambition to be the worldleading supplier of mental health and neurological drug treatments, and the significance of two recent product launches: the antidepressant Cipralex and the dementia drug Ebixa. In a consultancy profile, Royce described itself as the agency “where candidates come first”, emphasising the values of quality and integrity in helping pharma sales professionals to find the most worthwhile roles to progress their careers.
The news section reported an initiative by UK pharma companies to donate emergency medicines for bomb-ravaged Iraq, and the development by UK companies of a “wave of new medicines” to treat schizophrenia. It was also noted that the World Cup had caused a temporary drop in sales of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction products – though whether this was due to better male sexual performance or reduced male contact with the opposite sex was not explained.