No doubt millions were moved by President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday. Having listened to and read it several times, it occurred to me that many of his messages apply directly to our industry.
Take this statement, for example: “Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less…. it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
Granted, the President was speaking of Americans who took chances throughout this country’s history to improve the equality and lives of those around them. But scientists, chemists, and engineers are also “makers of things” and also working to improve lives. It’s this very population that takes chances every day to try to develop new medicines and delivery methods to treat people in need. And we all know that the individuals in quality control and managerial departments spend their days making sure no shortcuts are taken along the way.
And how about this statement from Obama’s speech: “Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.” Can not the “crisis” he refers to apply to the multiple breaches this industry has seen in supply-chain security and quality over the past two years, or to the thousands of job cuts drug companies and manufacturers are being forced to make in this economy, or even to the lack of resources so desperately needed by FDA to carry out its ever-growing agenda? And yet, amid these crises, pharma’s work is still vital to global health.
One more statement caught my attention: “Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends…. are true…. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility…”
Many conferences of late have focused on the growing challenges in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. With new demands for quality systems and process monitoring tools, such as PAT, everything seems in flux. But the basic components of this industry—to make safe and effective drugs to help individuals who are sick and need treatment—have not changed, and they never will.
Now it’s probably not very likely that President Obama was thinking of the pharma industry as he stood on the Capitol steps yesterday afternoon. But in my mind, there’s no reason why his messages, goals, advice, and enthusiasm should not apply directly to us. We’re all thinkers, we’re all part of the working population, and we’re all ultimately responsible for what we do and how we do it.