Can Biopharma Steer Through the Stormy Seas? - The year 2009 was marked by recession, industry megamergers, and venture-capital scarcity. How did biopharmaceutical professionals fare? - BioPharm


Can Biopharma Steer Through the Stormy Seas?
The year 2009 was marked by recession, industry megamergers, and venture-capital scarcity. How did biopharmaceutical professionals fare?

BioPharm International
Volume 23, Issue 1

Figure 6. Job satisfaction levels
The job satisfaction levels of biopharmaceutical professionals show a similar trend to last year. The vast majority of our respondents (89%) are extremely satisfied, very satisfied, or satisfied with their jobs; only 11% are not satisfied (Figure 6). To probe further into the job satisfaction levels of industry professionals, we asked them about their greatest source of job satisfaction and their greatest source of job dissatisfaction. We received 516 responses to the question of satisfaction, compared to only 70 to the question of dissatisfaction.

"My personal contributions to the organization and appreciation for a job well-done are top sources of workplace satisfaction," says the director of process development at a medium-sized biotech. "In addition to the satisfaction of knowing that my efforts ultimately contribute to the health and wellbeing of our patient population, I also find it especially satisfying to know that I'm helping to develop therapeutics that I, or a family member, may someday need," he says.

The biggest source of satisfaction for Ultee of Laureate Pharma is the ability to turn discoveries into products. "To actually see those turn into something useful medical therapies is very satisfying," he says.


As the second decade of the millennium begins, one wonders if the consolidation activity that began in 2009 will continue in 2010 and beyond. Some even predict that the industry may whittle down to just a few big companies. If that were to happen, it would surely narrow opportunities for biopharmaceutical professionals.

Nevertheless, the people we spoke to are pretty optimistic. "The consolidation activity and its impact on jobs notwithstanding, there is an expectation of more jobs being added, not subtracted, from the industry in the coming years," says PharmStorm's Ruvolo. Her prediction is that overall there will be growth opportunities for individuals with strong skill sets and academic credentials, especially to fill positions in research, marketing, manufacturing, and QA.

Langer agrees. "Because healthcare in general is relatively recession-proof, and biotech in particular is an on-going hot field, I think generally that employment will continue cautious increases as new products reach the market and as new technologies are introduced," he says. He also points out, however, that companies are being cautious in how they hire and that much of the hiring may be with companies offering outsourcing services so that drug innovators can reduce their costs.

Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company, also thinks that biotech will be upbeat in 2010, as he notes that financing for small biotechs is already improving. "The companies that have survived the financial markets meltdown are well placed to adapt to the new environment that we now are entering," he writes in his column in this issue "Biotech in Good Shape for 2010".

And with the stabilization of the capital markets, we are seeing some encouraging signs of good things to come. From his vantage point at a CMO, Ultee sees these indicators firsthand. "We have seen an uptick in terms of visits from clients and significantly more activity as compared to the first six months," he notes. The majority of our survey respondents (68%) also think employment opportunities will rise in the next 12 months.

This winter might seem a particularly cold one but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. To quote Albert Camus, "In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

Chitra Sethi is the managing editor of BioPharm International, 732.346.3059,

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