Trump, Once Again, Falsely Takes Credit for New US Job Creation

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

As  you may recall, one of Trumps major campaign messages to his followers was to”force corporate America to focus on job creation at home rather than abroad.”  In my opinion, Trump’s possible success as President is and will continue to be inextricably linked to fulfilling his promise to create new jobs for out-of-work or underemployed Americans. That said, Trump will do or say anything, including taking false credit, to show his supporters that he can indeed create US jobs.

Yesterday, Trump announced:

I was just called by the head people at Sprint, and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. “They have taken them from other countries. They are bringing them back to the United States.”

Later in the day, Sprint said that the jobs were part of a previously announced commitment by Japan’s Soft Bank, which owns a controlling interest in Sprint, to invest $50 billion in the US and create 50,000 new jobs. As you may recall, shortly after electoral college win, Trump met with Masayoshi Sun, the CEO of Softbank who made the announcement and quickly took credit for the announced investment. Interestingly, the investment and job creation plans predated the election. Put simply, the deal was forged long before Trump got involved.

Not withstanding Trump’s penchant for mendacity, it is important to note that since the election, Sprint stock price has risen by 40%, partly on the hopes that it will be acquired by its rival cellphone carrier T-Mobile. While the Obama administration frowned upon telecom mergers because of anti-trust concerns, Sun and his investors believe that the Trump administration may look more favorably on any potential deals with T-mobile or other players in this sector.

Moreover, last January, as part of a restructuring effort, Sprint cut 2,500 jobs in call centers throughout the US and its corporate headquarters. This means that there will be a net gain of only 2,500 new Sprint jobs in the US if the announced positions are ever created or filled (supposedly by the end of fiscal year 2017). In any event, if a merger ultimately does take place between Sprint and T-Mobile, there are likely to be massive job cuts which typically occur after most mergers to reduce duplication of effort at both the technical and administrative levels.

Sadly, it is becoming increasingly evident that Trump is willing to lie or take credit for deals that have little or nothing to do with him when it comes to job creation (or anything else for that matter).  To that point, be wary of anything Trump says or does when it comes to job creation during his administration.  When the smoke clears and mirrors are removed, any announced job “deals”are likely to be in the best interests of corporate America; not hard-working or job-seeking Americans.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

Participation in High School Science Fairs Declines As The President Acknowledges American Science Competitiveness is At An All Time Low

Posted in BioEducation

In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama acknowledged that US global competitiveness in science, technology engineering and math is at an all time low and that now may be America’s “sputnik moment” to turn this trend around. While I was pleased to hear the President say that we have a problem, neither political rhetoric nor turning the lack of science literacy into a challenge that resembles an arms race is going to solve the problem. What is needed are better trained science teachers who can engage science-minded students and a repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act that forces schools to focus limited financial resources on bolstering math and reading scores to maintain public funding. Sadly, neither of these things is going to happen any time soon. But I digress…

Historically, an option for science-minded students who wanted to be “engaged” was local, regional and national science fairs where students competed with one another for recognition of innovative scientific achievement. According to an article in the NY Times, science fairs grew in popularity after World War II and were intended for those who may not have considered themselves science fanatics but were interested in general science. Michele Glidden, director at the Society for Science & public, a nonprofit organization that administers 350 regional fairs contends that “Science fairs develop skills that reach down to everybody’s lives, whether you want to be a scientist or not. The point is to breed science-minded citizens.” Unfortunately, the number of high school students and high school participating in science fairs is waning. For example, in Indiana participation in the state’s science fairs plummeted 15 per cent in the last three years.

Experts contend that declining participation may be linked to competing demands placed on high school students for other extracurricular options like sports, music, and volunteering. Yet many science educators contend that meeting mandated state standards that usually require teaching fact-based knowledge rather than the scientific method leaves little time for them to stimulate students who may be interested in participating in science fairs. Further, many high school teachers lack the training or subject matter expertise to help students who want to enter science fear. Some have reached out to scientists in industry or local colleges and universities to help interested students but these types of connections are frequently difficult to make. 

Yet, despite these challenges, several hundred thousand American high school students will participate in over 350 science fairs during the next three months or so. If now is truly a “sputnik moment” for America, than President Obama and perhaps more importantly Congress ought to “put its money where its mouth is” and provide support to improve US science literacy.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

 

Why Five Years of Data Exclusivity Makes Sense for US Follow-on Biologics Legislation

Posted in BioBusiness

In case you did not know, the 12 years of market exclusivity proposed for follow-on biologics by supporters and lobbyists for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries is part of the impending US healthcare reform legislation currently pending in Congress. While President Obama has publicly announced that he supports a five year period of data exclusivity for biologics (the same as the exclusivity period for generic small molecule drugs, it is unlikely that the President will be able to convince or coerce legislators to reconsider the 12 year data exclusivity provision. However, there was a brilliant Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times written by Anthony So and Samuel Katz at Duke University which offers a plethora of financial and business reasons why the five year period makes a lot of sense!

  1. Generic small molecule drugs have been estimated to save the American healthcare system as much as $734 billion over the past 25 year or so since the inception of the Hatch Waxman Act.
  2. Biologics cost on average 22 times more than equivalent brand name prescription small molecule drugs
  3. In 2008, 28% of sales of the life science industry’s top 100 products came from biologics and biotechnology products: by 2014 that share is expect to rise to about 50%
  4. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found that the top six selling biologics which include Epogen (Amgen) Avastin (Genentech) and Remicade (Centocor) accounted for $7.0 billion (43%) of Part B drug spending in 2007 (Part B covers the cost of doctor spending and outpatient visits)
  5. Between 2006 and 2007, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) spending on biologics increased by 36% as compared with a 22% increase in spending for small molecule drugs
  6. Prices for biologics and biotechnology products have increased more rapidly than those for small molecule drugs
  7. While industry leaders and their lobbyist contend that it costs more and takes longer to develop biologics and biotechnology products than small molecule drugs, based on reports by various industry trade groups it costs about $1.2 billion to develop biologics and roughly $1.318 billion for small molecule drugs
  8. The US Federal Trade Commission, the independent federal agency whose main goals are to protect consumers and to ensure a strong competitive market by enforcing a variety of consumer protection and antitrust laws, recommended that the data exclusivity period for follow-on biologics should not exceed six years.

Despite the likelihood that follow-on biologics will substantially reduce prescription drug costs and healthcare spending, Congress has chosen to support questionable legislation that will delay access of Americans to less costly, efficacious follow-on biologics until at least 2020.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

 

Healthcare Reform: Obama Pushes for Shorter Data Exclusivity Period for Biosimilars

Posted in BioBusiness

Many progressives and left-leaning individuals (like me) voted for President Obama because he presented himself as somebody who will stand up for what he believes. Until recently, I, along with others, have been deeply disappointed in his performance and it was no longer clear to me what he truly believes in. However, his recent stand on healthcare reform (sadly without a public option), his performance at the global warming summit and most recently his quick response and unequivocal support for Haitian earthquake victims suggest to me that we are finally beginning to see what President Obama believes and what he is made up. To that end, Obama has turned up the heat to reduce the proposed 12 period of data exclusivity for biosimilars (aka follow-on biologics) in the bill that was passed by both the US House and Senate. Both the President and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA (of Hatch-Waxman fame) are trying to reduce the 12 year exclusivity 10 years or less. Obama previously went on record saying that he favored a 7 year exclusivity period for biosimilars.

Not surprisingly, the move has met with fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries that argue the longer period is needed to encourage investment and R&D required to produce biopharmaceutical products. Lobbying by both sides has dramatically increased as healthcare reform is pretty much a done deal. However, brand companies have spent many millions more than generic manufacturers to lobby Congress on the 12 year period.

It is about time that an American President is willing to do what is in the best interest of the American public instead of what lobbyists and special interests are demanding. And, to those companies that steadfastly hold to the notion that biopharmaceuticals take an inordinately long time to bring to market I ask: “What’s in your pipeline?”

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!

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2010: Healthcare Reform at Last!

Posted in Career Advice

It has been a long time coming, but legislation reforming the US healthcare system will likely be realized in 2010. While the law will likely be passed in 2010, many of its provisions and actionable items won’t be enacted until 2014 (at least in the current bill). I hope that negotiations between the House and Senate change the start date and that the law takes effect in 2010.

I refrained from commenting on healthcare reform until now because, as a progressive who vehemently supports a public option (at the very least), I was very angry and frankly, let down by the unfulfilled promises made by President Obama during his presidential campaign. However, after seeing the despicable and repugnant exhibited by both Republican and Democratic senators (most notably Lieberman and Hogan) during the debate on healthcare reform, it finally dawned on me that Obama had little choice but to chart the course that he ultimately chose to follow to insure that healthcare reform became a reality. Put simply, it is obvious to me, that congressional not presidential reform will be necessary to right a broken system and put the US back on a track to prosperity. It has become increasingly obvious that lobbying by special interest groups has corrupted the system and our congressional representatives are no longer voting their conscience but voting on behalf of the powers at be who finance their re-election campaigns. While seasoned politicos will argue that I am naive and that this is the way that business has always be done, there comes a time when a system is so broken that it simply needs to be changed in the best interests of ALL Americans.

Earlier in the year, I had a discussion with a friend who, despite his undying support for a public opinion, suggested to me that any legislation passed to reform healthcare wouldn’t contain one. In response, I quipped, “then I hope that there isn’t any healthcare reform at all!” Since that declaration, my opinion (and that of some other progressives) has changed—mostly because I and others have come to realize that from a historical perspective, fundamental change in America doesn’t usually come neatly packaged in a single bill or law. Instead, change occurs incrementally and evolves over time. Realizing this, and the likelihood that the Democrats may lose their 60 vote majority in the senate in midterm elections, President Obama divined a healthcare reform strategy that he knew he could deliver by 2010. His informed and pragmatic approach to healthcare may not be what progressives like me envisioned but he will be the first US President to accomplish healthcare reform in almost 80 years! And, at the very least, 30 million Americans who previously didn’t have any health insurance will now be covered under the new law. This will be an important first step in the process to begin to overhaul the US healthcare system.

Hat tip to President Obama!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!

 

Mining Prescription Drug User Data

Posted in Career Advice

I suspect that a majority of BioJobBlog readers have at one time or another been prescribed a drug to treat a particular medical condition or ailment. Like most of you, I assumed that my prescription information and history was private and that only healthcare professionals were privy to it. However, after reading an article in this Sunday’s NY Times, I learned how wrong I was! Much to my dismay,  I learned that prescription information including the name and dosage of a drug, the name and address of the physician who prescribed as well as a patient’s address and social security number is a commodity that is regularly bought and sold usually with a patients’ knowledge or permission. And apparently, this practice is perfectly legal as long as patient’s names are removed or encrypted before the information is sold, typically to drug manufacturers.

Unfortunately, privacy experts and information technology specialists contend that it isn’t difficult to match names, addresses, and social security numbers to reconstruct information that had supposedly been rendered anonymous. To make matters worse, until very recently, federal patient privacy and data security rules were loosely enforced and frequently abused by medical marketers, advertisers, drug manufacturers and retail pharmacies. Finally, re-identifying a patient’s prescription drug information and history provides drug makers with a powerful tool to target and market drugs to specific patient populations.

Tracking prescriptions and mining prescription data is not new—it has been big business for many decades. The major players in the drug mining business are companies like IMS Health, Verispan and CVS Caremark. Also, large discount pharmacy retailers like Walgreens and Target engage in this practice and they all sell their prescription information data to interested parties. Prescription drug data-mining companies say that their services are valuable and warranted because gathering and analyzing information from tens of thousands of patients helps drug manufacturers to identify trends and potential safety and tolerability issues with prescription drugs. Nevertheless, despite assertions that prescription drug data are anonymous when it is sold, class action and private lawsuits alleging this not to be the case have been filed against some of the major players including Walgreens, IMS Health and CVS Caremark. While this is troubling, loopholes in the current prescription drug data mining regulations allow pharmacy companies like Walgreens and others to accept money from drug manufacturers to mail advice and reminders to customers to take their medications without first obtaining their permission. The loopholes also allow drug makers to send customers’ promotional information and materials about drugs other than the ones that they are already taking.

Under the Obama Administration’s $19 billion healthcare stimulus package, selling prescription drug data to drug makers will still be allowed (only if patient’s names are removed). Also, subsidized marketing by drug makers will be allowed to continue but companies will no longer be able to promote drugs other than those the customer already buys. While the new legislation allows data mining and the sale of prescription drug information to continue, its primary goal is to tighten and insure patient privacy so that personal prescription drug history and information can no longer be used to exploit the buying habits and behaviors of individual American consumers.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!

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NYC BioBuzz: Social Media and Healthcare Meeting on July 23, 2009

Posted in Social Media

BioJobBlog and BioCrowd along with the Business Development Institute, the Journal of Communication in Healthcare and others are co-sponsoring a meeting entitled “Social Media and Healthcare” that will be held on July 23, 2009 in NYC at the Graduate Center of The City University of NY (365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street). Topics that will be covered include:  

  1. Managing regulatory and legal issues when planning and implementing social media strategies
  2. Is there a role for social media in President Obama’s healthcare reform plans?
  3. Why real-time social media tools like Twitter are gaining momentum and when it makes sense to use them
  4. How social media has affected crisis communications in the healthcare industry
  5. Selling social communications projects and proving ROI to senior management
  6. Creating and participating in communities to achieve communication, educational and branding objectives
  7. Planning and executing a social communications plan with little or no budget
  8. Building relationships and partnerships with new healthcare media leaders beyond advertising
  9. Best practices for using social communications to connect internally with employees and stakeholders
  10. Tools, technologies, and best practices for monitoring and measuring social communications

The meeting’s agenda features case study presentations and a series of roundtable discussions on social media topics. I will be leading a roundtable discussion called “How to Build a Social Networking Site for Bioscientists.” Approximately 300 senior marketing, communications and media professionals from Fortune 1000, middle market and emerging growth companies are expected to attend from leading pharmaceuticals, medical technology/device companies, managed care providers, hospitals, healthcare media companies, government and nonprofit organizations.  

BioCrowd members can register for the meeting at a discounted rate of $155. Check it out—it will be money well spent!

Hat tip to Steve Etzler at the BDI and Mario R. Nacinovich Jr., Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Communication in Healthcare for organizing this topical and important meeting.

I hope to see you at the meeting next Thursday!!!!

 

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Job Growth in Healthcare and Education Services Expected to Be Robust

Posted in BioJobBuzz

According to a report released by the presidentbs Council of Economic Advisers the biggest gains in job growth by 2016 will be in the areas of healthcare and education services. Moreover, most of these jobs will require postsecondary education degrees mainly in the form of certificates and associates degrees.B To meet this demand, the report argues for ways to improve the US education system so that American workers can more easily adapt to a more skilled-base economy.

The report also notes that manufacturing will continue its long term decline and that small growth will occur in the business and financial sectors of the US economy.B Construction and transportation are likely to begin to grow once the economy improves. However, the largest demand and increases will occur in healthcare services, environmental-related occupations and in education service providers.B Whereas other sectors of the economy have been battered by the recession, growth in the healthcare and educational services sectors have remained robust.

In the past, emphasis has been placed on obtaining a baccalaureate degree to garner gainful employment. While this trend will likely continue, explosive growth is expected for occupations that require only an associatebs degree or postsecondary education certificate.B Growth in these types of jobs is predicted to outpace occupations that require a bachelorbs degree or higher.

The report also describes goals that must be met to improve the American postsecondary education system. These include: improving early childhood, elementary and secondary education; better school curriculums; closer collaboration between employers and educational institution to ensure that students learn the skills that they need on the job, better financial aid; and accountability for education and workforce programs that donbt work.B I have long contended that both undergraduate and graduate programs in the life sciences introduce skill-based workforce development activities into their curriculums. Unfortunately, my attempts have fallen upon deaf ears.B Perhaps this report will induce the administrators who can institute this type of change to take their bheads out of the sandband take notice.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Learning!!!!!!

 

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Obama Seeks Compromise on Length of Data Exclusivity for Follow-on Biologics

Posted in BioBusiness

As the Congressional debate over follow-on biologics slogs on, the Obama Administration has finally weighed in and backs 7 years of data exclusivity for follow-on biologics. As you may recall, innovator companies want a 12-14 year data exclusivity period whereas follow-on biologics manufacturers are seeking a 5-year period (which is identical to the data exclusivity period for small molecules generic drugs outlined in the Hatch Waxman Act). What this means—based on the Obama Administration’s proposal—is that a follow-on biologic manufacturer must wait seven years from the date of approval for the innovator (branded) drug before the US Food and Drug Administration could consider approval of a follow-on version of the molecule.

It is not surprising that the Obama Administration supports a 7 data exclusivity period–it is, after all, a compromise between the 5 year period sought by the follow-on manufacturers and the 12-14 years that the innovator companies are seeking. And, Mr Obama has repeatedly shown a willingness to compromise when it comes to getting important legislation passed. Hopefully, Congress will take the Obama Administration’s compromise to heart and pass follow-on biologics legislation as quickly as possible.

 Until next time…

 Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!

 

 

Restoring Science to Its Rightful Place: The Obama Administration Addresses the Visa Issues Plaguing Foreign Life Sciences Researchers

Posted in BioJobBuzz

After months of complaints by university officials and scientific organizations, the US State Department announced on Tuesday that it is taking action to speed up the delay-plagued visa process for foreign graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

For the past few years, foreign science and engineering graduate students and postdoctoral seeking to obtain or renew visas have routinely experienced long delays sometimes taking as long as several months. The problem became so acute that students and researchers who left the US often found themselves stranded abroad, not knowing when their visas might be approved.  Not surprisingly, the delays have caused enormous problems for American universities, which heavily rely on foreign nationals to fill slots in graduate and post-doctoral science and engineering programs. Over the last year or so, visa difficulties having discouraged many scientific organizations from holding meetings in the United States. Some life sciences researchers said the apparent reluctance of the United States to accept them encouraged them to seek work in other countries.

The State Department has hired additional personal to deal with the visa backlog but will not say how long it will take to correct the problem. A state department official indicated that they hope to handle routine visa requests within a two week time frame.

While never officially acknowledged, the Bush Administration intentionally slowed the visa process for foreign researchers to “guard against proliferation of science and technical information.” In other words, the visa backlog was likely intentionally created to prevent foreign drug companies and national scientific agencies from infringing on American intellectual property and patent rights—an ongoing practice that clearly frightened many of the jingoistic officials running the Bush State Department.

However, what the Bush administration failed to understand was that a majority of foreign students who train in the US want to remain here after completion of their studies. The visa backlog and its protectionist intent forced many foreign nationals to forgo their US training and return to their home countries to seek employment. This was beginning to threaten scientific and technical innovation in US laboratories because for the past decade or longer American students have shied away from science and engineering to pursue careers in business and computer science. Ironically, the Bush Administration’s protectionist leanings may have contributed—more than they care to admit—

 to the massive job cuts that have taken place at American life sciences companies in the past few years because of availability of a US-trained work forces in countries like India and China. This provides American life sciences companies with reasonable assurances that preclinical and clinical research outsourced to these countries will be conducted according to US standards. Further, it also provides foreign companies with unbridled access to a growing cadre of US-trained scientists that will enable them to compete on a head-to-head basis with American life sciences companies.

Fortunately, the Obama Administration, unlike the previous one, delivers on its promises and appears to be willing to work hard to restore science and technology to its rightful place in American society.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (it may now be possible for many foreign students!)

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