Beyond Distractions, Pharma Moves On

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology-01-02-2017, Volume 41, Issue 1
Pages: 8

Translating campaign promises to predictions for bio/pharma is difficult, but optimism prevails.

In 1977, an unexpected presidential winner, Jimmy Carter, was sworn into office and the first Star Wars episode premiered in movie theaters. In that year, Pharmaceutical Technology also published its first issue. As 2017 begins, the United States will inaugurate another unexpected winner of the presidential race, and heroic rebels still battle an evil force in the latest installment of the movie series.

As we mark 40 years of publishing this year, it is easy to look back and assess factors that impacted the economy and pharma during the past decades. Predicting the next few months, yet alone the next few years, is far more difficult. Following the contentious 2016 presidential election, uncertainty was the prevailing sentiment as the Trump administration initiated the transition to the White House and federal agencies.

In general, big business had a positive outlook toward the new administration, as reflected in a post-election stock market surge. Other campaign promises, in particular the repeal of Obamacare, generated protests and unease for pharma companies, payers, and patients. In this issue, the editors look at some of the political, economic, and regulatory trends that may influence the business activities in 2017.

As the nation waited for more information about the leadership and policies of the new administration, the airwaves and social media were buzzing with opinions about politics, policies, the economy, and the future. Still, bio/pharma development moves on. Prior to the election, Pharmaceutical Technology sampled opinions from those who work in pharma about the industry’s prospects.

More than 440 bio/pharma professionals from around the world participated in the 2016 Pharmaceutical Technology/Pharmaceutical Technology Europe annual employment survey (1). Respondents expressed opinions about job security, seeking new opportunities, salary levels, as well as trends in the industry, how changes impact their daily work, and future business prospects. The survey was conducted in September and October 2016.

Business continues to improve

Almost 44% of the respondents said business at their company increased in 2015, three percentage points higher than reported in 2015 (2). More than one-quarter of the respondents (28.8%) reported that their company had been through a merger or acquisition in the past two years, up slightly from the 2015 survey. Fewer respondents reported a company downsizing or restructuring.


Respondents were even more upbeat about the prospects of business improvements at their companies; 59.1% predicted that their company’s business would improve in 2017, compared to 54.6% predicting improvements for 2016. Only 13% predicted business would decline.

Overall, respondents expressed a positive outlook for the bio/pharmaceutical industry as a whole for the next year; however, optimism slid a bit in recent years. Fewer respondents said business would improve (45.6% in 2016 compared with 47.8% in 2015 and 54.2% in 2014). In a reverse of sentiments in previous years, respondents based in North America (42.3%) were less optimistic that business would improve compared with respondents based in Europe (46.4%).

When looking at the next five years, nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.3%) predicted that business will improve; however, 15.2% of the US-based respondents expect business to improve overseas, but not domestically.


1. 2016 Pharmaceutical Technology/Pharmaceutical Technology Europe Annual Employment Survey.
2. 2015 Pharmaceutical Technology/Pharmaceutical Technology Europe Annual Employment Survey.

Article Details

Pharmaceutical Technology
Vol. 41, No. 1
Page: 8


When referring to this article, please cite it as R. Peters, “Beyond Distractions, Pharma Moves On," Pharmaceutical Technology 41 (1) 2017.