On both sides of the Atlantic, exactly the wrong questions are being asked. Nor is Read, however convenient a scapegoat, the right person to be interrogating.
Instead, they should be asking what could be done to ensure that the R&D pharmaceutical sector remains vibrant, ambitious, and well-funded. In the coming decades, with over two billion people growing into old age, and health care costs still rising ahead of inflation, the “miracles” of the 20th century that contributed mightily to our current longevity will be essential. These are not questions for a CEO, but for policymakers who create the conditions that enable or discourage investment that leads to jobs, innovation and economic growth.Instead of asking Ian Read about Pfizer’s plans to hire or fire, government leaders should be asking their health, science and finance ministers what kinds of R&D programs could be put in place to enable the British population to age with more vitality.
I don’t think he “gets it”, either. Pharmaceutical companies don’t view R&D as a profit center but as overhead. From their point of view it should be minimized.
IMO among the questions that should be asked is whether the regulatory framework that’s in place is encouraging or discouraging more R&D and developing new pharmaceuticals. I think you need to look beyond single companies and at the industry as a whole.