Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Insight into Industry

Posted by Bernadette at Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the first day of my industry rotation at Sanofi in Bridgewater, NJ, I was asked by my preceptor, Eric Racine, "What do you know about industry?" My honest answer then was little to nothing. When I first started my rotation, the pharmaceutical industry was just a big conglomerate entity in my mind. Millions of dollars were put into some drug-making assembly line, which would then produce billions of dollars in profits. However, throughout my 4-week stay, I came to realize that like every other industry, pharma was affected by the struggling economy as well. A week into my rotation, the CEO of Sanofi announced layoffs and budget cuts in their Research and Development (R&D) department - around 3,000 jobs companywide. Not only did this annoucement leave an air of apprehension amongst the employees, it also brought to light the fact that while pharma is big, it's also not invulnerable.

I worked on the diabetes team in the advocacy department, which was actually an area I didn't even realize existed in industry. The department worked with various advocacy groups to help promote disease awareness, and in my situation, diabetes. All the projects the department worked on focused on the disease itself - though since it is a business, with the hopes that awareness of disease prevention measures would lead to increased use of the company's drugs. Because this was advocacy and not marketing, it meant that our work really was for disease awareness and not brand promotion (i.e. promoting proper use of insulin rather than proper use of Lantus), which was quite different from what I would traditionally expect from pharma.

Over the course of my rotation, I also began to understand the clockwork behind the corporation. Every project and achievement was a result of a coalition of efforts - drug safety, medical information, marketing, government affairs, legal, etc - and that's when I really began to appreciate this environment. I had the chance to meet people from various departments and learned about their roles and how it fit into the overall scheme of the company. I had a wonderful time during this rotation, learning more about industry as a whole as well as the strategy and collaboration within an individual company.

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