JOB SECURITY IN A CRUMBLING ECONOMY
In this time of threats and opportunities, are biopharmaceutical professionals feeling secure in their jobs? Overall, our
respondents feel secure in their jobs. Seventy-one percent (71%) of respondents said they feel "secure," "very secure," or
"extremely secure" in their current jobs (Figure 4).
This sense of security continues despite the fact that, like last year, 54% have been through a merger, acquisition, or downsizing
within the last two years. Perhaps the secure feeling remains because only 7% were laid off as a result of such corporate
upheaval, and 48% said they were unaffected by the process (Figure 5). The rest either said their job responsibilities changed
(38%) as a result of a merger or downsizing activity or that they chose to leave their companies voluntarily (8%).
A global quality control manager with 20 years of experience, currently employed at a leading Big Pharma company, feels more
secure now because his company is trying to transition from small-molecule drugs to biologics. "There is a new initiative
to become the next-generation biopharma, so I feel secure," he says.
EDUCATED AND EXPERIENCED
Most respondents also feel their academic background has served them in their current job functions: 50% say their education
prepared them extremely well or well, and 38% say it prepared them adequately. Job experience has proven more valuable: 74%
of respondents say their employment experience prepared them extremely well or well for their current role; another 22% say
it prepared them adequately.
Most respondents also work for companies that support their continued professional development: 75% say their organizations
pay for them to attend conferences; 74% say the same for in-house training; and 73% attend outside courses or workshops.
The above are perhaps some of the reasons why biopharmcaeutical professionals are feeling secure even in these times of economic
insecurity. A broad portfolio of products is keeping the big biotechs financially strong and in a position to recruit people.
Bill Bennett, senior director of science and policy assessment at Genentech says, "Our business is actually doing pretty well
and the economy isn't threatening it very much at the moment."
"The economy has made the market more robust for a big biotech because of good molecules being available," says John K. Towns,
director of global CMC regulatory affairs at Eli Lilly and Company. The big companies are benefiting from this economy, Towns
says, because they have the money to buy small biotechs with new compounds at low prices and move these forward in the pipeline.
RISKS AT SMALL BIOTECHS
Although the big biotechs are generally sheltered from the current economic crisis, the same can't be said about the small
biotechs that are struggling to survive as the venture capital funds that drive these companies are drying up. Job security
is therefore down at cash-hungry small biotechs as they continue to make wholesale layoffs in a desperate attempt to stay
In fact, as we went to press, representatives from the US biotech industry, supported by the Biotechnology Industry Organization
(BIO), were planning to meet with the members of Congress to ask for a temporary change in the tax law that would let money-losing
companies get cash from the government now, in exchange for tax credits they would pledge not to take if they eventually became
profitable. The change, if approved, could enable the industry to receive potentially hundreds of millions or even billions