The US Job Market: Too Much Technology or Not Enough?

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

Depending upon your political views, there are two prevailing economic theories on the existing US job market. From a Trumpian standpoint, technology is the bane of the existence of the American manufacturing sector whereas, from a liberal perspective, technological innovation in the US is not growing as much as it needs to sustain the US economy.  Both perspectives are explored in an article by Neil Irwin in the NY TImes Sunday Business section.

On one hand, many Trumpians believe that the US economy has become too volatile and uncertain. According to Mr. Irwin

The economy has become too volatile and uncertain. Perhaps the dissatisfaction is driven by globalization, automation and the decline of employers’ implicit promises to offer workers jobs through thick and thin. These factors have made it harder for people to get good-paying jobs and to hold onto them for decades. High levels of inequality mean many of the benefits of growth don’t accrue for people at the middle and bottom of the pay scale.

All of this has hammered people without an advanced education and left them feeling unmoored and without opportunity, even if by narrow measurements jobs are plentiful and compensation is rising.….In short, one could summarize this set of complaints as the economy’s having become too dynamic for its own good.

On the other hand, the counter argument goes like this:

 A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a research outfit funded largely by technology executives, suggests that the real problem isn’t too much dynamism but too little.

They cite federal data showing that in 1977, more than 16 percent of firms in the United States were less than a year old, a figure that had fallen to half that by 2014. New businesses have similarly done less to power new jobs than they once did, while the biggest, oldest firms account for a rising share of economic activity. Market concentration increased for two-thirds of industries between 1997 and 2012, the report found. That coincided with a steady rise in corporate profits as a share of gross domestic product, and in a decline in the share going to workers’ wages.

The job market has become less fluid. The proportion of workers who change jobs in a given year has fallen from 12 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2015….

Most startlingly, the creation of new companies has been concentrated in a small number of metropolitan areas: Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. From 2010 to 2014, those five regions created as many net new businesses as the rest of the country combined. If you didn’t live in them, or were unwilling to move to them, you were out of luck.

Put simply, the US economy and job market is not dynamic enough.

Irwin offers two different remedies to address either idea:

If you look at globalization as the main problem, you might see some Trumpian renegotiation of trade deals and arm-twisting to get companies to keep jobs at home as being in order. But you could also argue for a more generous social safety net and government funding for retraining.

If you believe that increased market concentration is a central problem, you might consider tougher antitrust enforcement, a favorite of liberals, but also explore conservative arguments that complex regulation creates an unfair advantage for big companies that can employ scores of lawyers.

Finally, Irwin concludes:

Of course, the too much versus too little dynamism diagnoses aren’t mutually exclusive; there are probably elements of truth in both. Maybe the economy really isn’t working for many Americans because globalization, automation and changing labor practices have thrown them to the wolves. But maybe there are also deep-seated structural shifts preventing communities and individuals from tapping the great opportunities the modern economy offers.

The point here is, that the American economy/ job market change rapidly and jobseekers must learn to quickly adapt to remain employed.  Further, contrary to Trump’s simple minded rhetoric, there is no quick fix for the US job market. To that point, saving a few corporate jobs here and there and threatening companies who move manufacturing outside of the US may sound good, but in the end, it is no substitute to a coherent well-thought-out job strategy to help displaced workers get the jobs that they so desperately want and need.

Until next time…

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

Blizzards and the American Work Ethic

Posted in Career Advice

It’s been a while since my last blog post but the hysteria over the would-be blizzard of the century got me thinking again.  The Great Recession that began in 2008 (which appears to be over) has forced the American workforce to work harder (without commensurate increases in salary and vacation time) than ever before. Consequently, those who were lucky enough to retain their jobs are frequently stressed, fatigued and pushed to the breaking point. Therefore, it is not surprising (to me at least) for any excuse –like an exaggerated, overhyped blizzard–to not go to work!  Put simply, looking for cataclysmic climatic events to get the vacation time that employees so desperately need is not in the best interest of the American workforce!  Perhaps employers ought to allow employees to take more time off and guarantee them paid sick time rather than rely on blizzards to give their workers a much needed break.

The US economy seems to be in good shape as compared with the rest of the world.  Although American productivity is at a historical high, I do not think US workers will be able to maintain it into perpetuity. That said, the US greatest advantage over other countries in the world is ingenuity and innovation.  And, to innovate, people need time to think and identify the next “big thing”   And, while a snow day here or there may be restful, the time off is certainly not sufficient for workers to garner enough time to think about the next world-changing technology or innovation.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Digging Out (if you got any snow)


Looking for a Job? These Pharma Companies Are “Hiring”!!!!

Posted in BioBusiness

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) perused the corporate websites of 10 major pharma companies to determine the number of available jobs at those companies for the week of June 17-21, 2013.  While this was a laudable exercise, it is important to note that jobs listed on corporate websites usually do not reflect the actual job openings at the companies that post them. That said, although the results offered byGENsurvey may seem encouraging to jobseekers, I would not put much faith in the conclusions that they draw. For example, the author of the piece wrote:

The results show both the U.S.’ continuing dominance of the industry, since nine of 10 companies hired the highest numbers of employees Stateside—as well as significant hiring overseas, especially in China (which dominated Eli Lilly’s listings of available jobs) and Europe.

Anybody looking for a pharmaceutical job in theUSwill tell you that it is one of the worst job markets inUShistory and that the number of new employees being hired is negligible.  Nevertheless, it is fun to rank big pharma companies when there is nothing else to do. To that end, here is the list of big pharma companies that are “hiring”

1.  Novartis

2,740 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 1,096 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(500 jobs);Germany(224);U.K.(127);India(113);Austria(109)

2.  Roche

1,450 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 591 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Switzerland(240 jobs);Germany(192);China(148);PolandandSingapore(40 each)

3.  Sanofi

1,427 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 744 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(465 jobs);France(68);Germany(51);Canada(45);U.K.(18)

4.  Pfizer

815 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 332 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:China(249 jobs);U.K.(26);Mexico(18);Taiwan(17);Ukraine(16)

5.  GlaxoSmithKline

733 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 223 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(174 jobs);U.K.(114);Singapore(55);AustraliaandGermany(33 each)

6.  Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals

655 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 232 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Belgium(81 jobs);China(63); The Netherlands (40);Mexico(30);France(26)

7.  AbbVie (formerly Abbott Labs pharmaceutical division)

555 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 367 jobs listed on website

Next five countries:Germany(68 jobs);China(28);France(20);U.K.(16); The Netherlands (14)

8.  AstraZeneca

544 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation: U.S., with 259 jobs listed on website3

Next five countries: China(202 jobs); U.K.(55)3;France (11);Turkey (8);Sweden (7)

9.  Eli Lilly

484 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:China, with 319 jobs listed on website

Next four countries2:U.S. (146 jobs);Canada (16);Australia (2);U.K. (1) 

10.  Bristol-Myers Squibb

368 total worldwide jobs listed on website

Top nation:U.S., with 318 jobs listed on website

Next five countries: Irelandand United Kingdom(12 jobs each); France(9)1;Belgium (7);Spain (5)

A quick perusal of the list indicates that Novartis, Roche and Sanofi, arguably the best positioned and well financed of the companies have the most open jobs listed on their corporate sites.  Pfizer, the world’s largest pharma company has a paltry 815 open jobs worldwide.

The remaining 6 companies on the list have had their share of misfortunes lately, most notably Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca whose development pipelines are thin. Maybe that is why Eli Lilly is aggressively expanding its operations inChinawhere it has made substantial R&D investments.

Johnson & Johnson has been rocked by highly publicized problems with its consumer products whereas Bristol-Myers Squibb has undergone significant restructuring in its executive suite of late.

Interestingly, the top three pharma companies in the world are European not US-owned. Maybe that explains why the US life sciences job market is so bad….go figure. Also, it is important to remember that roughly 300,000 pharmaceutical employees have lost their jobs since 2001.

Until next time…

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


Its Official: Biosimilar Monoclonal Antibodies Will be Legal in Europe

Posted in BioBusiness

The European Medicine Agency (EMA) recommended marketing authorization for two biosimilar versions of Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade, an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) monoclonal antibody (MAbs) used to Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.  One of the MAbs named Remsima was developed by South Korea-based Celltrion and the other, Inflectra, was developed by US-based Hospira.   The European Commission is expected to follow the EMA committee’s advice and approve the products for a bunch of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

According to a report by Fierce Biotech, Kim Hyoung Ki, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Celltrion, told reporters in Seoul today, that

“The price of Remsima will be more than 30 percent cheaper than those of the original drugs,”  We’re confident in Remsima as it has price competitiveness, while it has the same effect as the original drugs.”

Other biosimilar versions of MAbs including Rituxan, Herceptin, Enbrel and Humira are in various stages of clinical development.  Many of the branded MAb products represent the only treatment for certain types of cancer and autoimmune diseases and they are expensive to use.  Consequently, biosimilar manufacturers have them in their sights because the patents for many of these products are due to expire by 2018.

Although biosimilars are not yet legal in the US, it is simply a matter of time before they will become available to American patients.  The cost of healthcare continues to spiral upward and cost-savings of 25%-30% for many blockbuster biologics can help to better control those costs.

Until next time…

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

QuestionsThat Interviewers Should Never (But Do) Ask

Posted in Career Advice

From time to time, I get asked by jobseekers about questions that interviewers are permitted to ask during a job interview. While almost everything is fair game, there are certain questions that interviewers are not legally permitted to ask.  And, while interviewers are not supposed to ask most of these questions, many do. That said, you need to be on the “look-out” for them and be prepared to judiciously answer them whether or not you think they may be legally acceptable or not. After all, challenging the legality of an interviewer’s question during a face-to-face is not likely to lead to a job offer!

In any event, the post list 13 questions on the forbidden list and how interviewers may be able to garner the information that they are seeking without necessarily violating any laws in doing so.

1. Age                 


  • How old are you?
  • What year were you born?
  • When did you graduate from high school?


  • Before hiring, asking if you are over the minimum age for the hours or working conditions.
  • After hiring, verifying same with a birth certificate or other ID, and asking age on insurance forms.

2. Citizenship

Inappropriate: Are you aUS citizen?


  • If you are not aUScitizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in theUS?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question).
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility upon hire?

3. Criminal Record


  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?


  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

4. Disability


  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What’s your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?


  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job.
  • After hiring, ask about medical history on insurance forms.

5. Family


  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse’s employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • What kind of child care arrangements have you made?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?


  • Can you work overtime?
  • Is there any reason you can’t start at7:30am?
  • Whether an applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities or commitments that may prevent him or her from meeting attendance requirements.

6. Marital Status


  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • What is the name of your relative/spouse/children?
  • Do you live with your parents?


  • After hiring, marital status on tax and insurance forms.

7. Military


  • What type or condition is your military discharge?
  • Can you supply your discharge papers?
  • What is your experience in other than US armed forces?


  • Describe the relevant work experience as it relates to this position that you acquired from aUSarmed forces.

8. National Origin


  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What’s your heritage?
  • What is your mother tongue?
  • How did you acquire the ability to speak, read or write a foreign language?
  • How did you acquire familiarity with a foreign country?
  • What language is spoken in your home?


  • Verifying legalU.S.residence or work visa status.
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?

9. Parental Status


  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?


  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.

10. Race or Skin Color


  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?


  • None

11. Religion or Creed


  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays will you be taking off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?


  • Can you work on Saturdays and Sundays?

12. Residence


  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you live in town?
  • With whom do you live?


  • Inquiries about the address to facilitate contact with the applicant.
  • Will you be able to start work at8:00am?

13. Sex or Sexual Orientation


  • Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
  • What are your plans to have children in the future?
  • Are you gay?
  • What is your sexual preference?


  • None

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!

Fed Up at Work? Before You Quit Consider This

Posted in Career Advice

I know it may appear a little odd that I am writing a post about leaving your current job given the state of the US economy and the dismal job market. However, believe it or not, there are folks out there whose skills are in demand who may have grown weary of their current job situations. With this in mind, those of you who may be considering a job change ought to ask a few questions before taking leap.

Are there opportunities for growth at your current company?

If the answer to this question is yes, then it may be prudent to explore these options before deciding to look for new opportunities at other companies. While you may think you have the skills and qualifications to land a new job at another company, word on the street is that it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year for qualified and in-demand employees to secure new positions.

Is the work that you that perform on a daily basis excruciatingly boring?

If the answer to this is yes, then it may be time to consider your options. However, if you are qualified to do the job that you do at your current company then it is likely that doing the same job at a competitor will also be as boring as your current job. To that end, maybe it is time to consider additional training or education to learn new skills a new trade or occupation. There is a saying in the recruiting business about persons who change jobs “Better pay but the same old crap”

How available are jobs for someone with your skills?

The job market is extremely tight right now and pundits believe that it will not improve for several years. Therefore, it is vital to seriously evaluate the number of job openings out there for someone with your skill sets. For example, there are still shortages of nursing and healthcare personnel. If you are a nurse or physician’s assistant, then it may not be a bad idea to look around and see if you can get a better deal at a new company or hospital. If on the other hand, you are a pharmaceutical employee, I would not recommend any job change at the moment. The market is extremely volatile and leaving your current job for a better opportunity at a competitor company may actually put you at risk for layoff. This is because the last hired are usually the first employees that are eliminated during reorganizations and layoffs.

Does your current job impact the quality of your life?

If you are miserable at your current job, it is likely affecting or hindering your performance at work. And despite your best efforts to hide those feelings, it is likely that others are picking them up. Further, if your job is stressful and interfering with your emotional well being it is also likely that you will not be able to perform at your best (especially if you are not sleeping well or the anxiety is interfering with personal relationships).  This is an extremely difficult situation especially if you or your family is counting on your paycheck to make ends meet. However, if your mental or emotional health is in jeopardy, it is time to start looking around for other opportunities. Obviously, do not quit your job until you land a new one. Alternatively, if you are in a good financial place, it may not be a bad idea to go to HR to ask for a “package” or simply give notice (if a package is not an option). Again, do not do this until you have devised a plan to look for a new job. Also, it is imperative that you take a hard look at your finances to insure that you budget is consistent with your job search strategy.

Is your current job what you want to do for the rest of your life?

It is not uncommon for people to work for years in the same profession and then decide that it is no longer for them. Also, many people have lifelong passions that they want to pursue but were either too afraid or not in a financial position to attempt them. If you know that your current job is not consistent with your long term career goals, then it is time to consider your options. Again, this requires a substantial amount of research, thinking and weighing the pros and cons of a career change. One of the best ways to confirm or rule out the possibility of a career change is to chat with people who are already pursuing the careers that you are considering. It is amazing how much you can learn from these people to better inform your decision about a career change. Once you have talked with these folks, researched the degree requirements and skill sets necessary to land jobs in your new career and chatted with your partner, family etc about the impact of the career move on your life then go for it! There is nothing more rewarding then waking up every day and looking forward to going to work because you love what you do!

Until next time…

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

FDA Finally Issues Some Biosimilar Guidance Documents

Posted in BioEducation

The US Food and Drug Administration finally released portions of the long-awaited guidance documents that will help to implement the development and approval of biosimilar molecules under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA)

Yesterday the agency issued three guidance documents which represent only a small portion of the total guidance package that will be necessary to develop and commercialize biosimilar products in the US

They are:

  1. Scientific Considerations in Demonstrating Biosimilarity to a Reference Product
  2. Biosimilars: Questions and Answers Regarding Implementation of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009
  3. Quality Considerations in Demonstrating Biosimilarity to a Reference Protein Product

For a more detailed analysis of the guidance documents please check out a post by James N. Czaban. According to Czaban (and many other in the biosimilar space) these first three guidance documents represent “baby steps” towards implementing the specifics of BPCIA. To that point, Czaban suggests that:

“These Guidances, while helpful in expressing some of the FDA’s general approaches, but will be of limited specific value with respect to any particular product”

Stay tuned for more updates.

Until next time…

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


Sandoz Moves Its Biosimilar Development Strategy Forward

Posted in BioEducation

Sandoz, the generics division of Novartis, is currently the world leader in the biosimilar market. In fact, if it was not for Sandoz, the biosimilar industry may never have gotten started in the first place! As some of you may know, Sandoz sued FDA (and won) to gain approval of its biosimilar human growth hormone. While FDA contends that Omnitrope is not really a biosimilar (it was approved as a “drug” rather than a biologic) most analysts agree that it was the first biosimilar product ever approved and sold in the US. 

As part of its global biosimilar strategy, Sandoz today announced that it had initiated Phase III clinical trails for US approval of biosimilar version of recombinant human granulocyte-colony stimulating factor(G-CSF) or filgrastim (Amgen’s Neupogen®) and another for global launch of PEG-filgrastim (Amgen’s Neulasta®); a PEGylated form of G-CSF.

The filgrastim study is designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Sandoz’s biosimilar filgrastim versus Neupogen® in breast cancer patients eligible for myelosuppressive chemotherapy treatment. These trials expected to support extension of commercialization to the US, the largest global market for biologics. The pegfilgrastim study, which is being conducted in breast cancer patients undergoing myelosuppressive chemotherapy treatment, represents the next major step in the Sandoz global biosimilar development program. Previously, Sandoz announced that it had initiated late stage clinical trials for a biosimilar version of Roche’s monoclonal antibody cancer treatment Rituxan®). Finally, Sandoz has eight to ten different biosimilar molecules at various stages of development in its pipeline.

Sandoz currently markets and sells three biosimilars: filgrastim (Zario®), somatropin (Omnitrope®) and epoetin alfa (Binocrit®) in countries across Europe and elsewhere. As mentioned above Omnitrope is also sold in the US. However, because FDA has yet to craft a regulatory approval pathway for biosimilars (despite legislation mandating their approval) it is illegal to sell biosimilars (with the exception of Omnitrope) in the US.

Once vilified and staunchly opposed by most major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, the biosimilar business has been picking up steam in the past few years. To that end, companies like Merck, Pfizer, Teva and more recently Amgen and Biogen (all of whom lobbied against an approval pathway for biosimilars in the US) announced plans to compete on the global biosimilar market.

The decision of these companies to enter the biosimilar market is largely a result of downward pricing pressures on pharmaceutical and biotechnology drugs and near-empty drug pipelines at most major life sciences companies. Nevertheless, it is still not clear whether or not a robust biosimilar market truly exists. To wit, biosimilars have been in the market in the EU for the past fiver years and have not gained much traction there. However, the real biosimilar markets probably exist in China, Brazil and other emerging countries where there are large populations and emerging middle classes but drug prices are under tight government regulation. Because of this, the uptake of biosimilars in these markets will likely be greater than in Europe and the US.

Until next time…

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


Asian Pharmaceutical Giant Takeda To Eliminate 2,800 Jobs in the US and Europe

Posted in BioEducation

Asia’s largest drug maker, Takeda, today announced that it will eliminate 2,800 jobs or about 9% of its workforce in the US and Europe. The job cuts, planned over the next four years, are intended to better integrate NycoMed, the Swiss company purchased by Takeda for $12 billion last September.

Most of the positions affected by the downsizing are in the US and Europe and will help the company save $1.7 billion over the next year or so.The plan includes the elimination of 2,100 jobs mainly in Europe and 700 in the U.S. across research, commercial, operations and administrative functions. Takeda currently has about 30,000 employees worldwide with operations in 42 countries.

The reason for the downsizing is slumping US sales of the company’s top selling drug Actos (diabetes) that will lose patent protection this August and face stiff generic competition. Like other pharmaceutical companies, Takeda is abandoning the US and European markets in favor emerging markets in China, India, Brazil and the Middle East.

Until next time…

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


China By The Numbers

Posted in BioEducation

Much has been written about the emerging markets in China. While there are likely thousands of business article and white papers on China’s economic expansion, I was unable to find a single source that provided me with some vital economic and social statistics to explain China’s rise as an economic power; that is until I received OnWisconsin, a quarterly publication from my alma mater the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

An article entitled “Delicate Balance” by Jenny Price ’96 provided me with a plethora of data that cogently and expertly explained the Chinese ascendancy as an economic power. Not surprisingly, the data offered by Price was compared with economic, social and business data from the US. Some of the information was startling to say the least (bold italics); so here goes:

Urban Population

United States 82%

China 47%

Median Age

United States 36.9 years

China 35.5

Total Fertility Rate

United States 2.06 children born per woman

China 1.54 children born per woman

Infant Mortality Rate (death per 1,000 live births)

United States 6.06

China 16.06

Net Migration Rate

United States 4.18 migrants/1,000 population

China -0.33 migrants/1000 population

Largest City

United States New York/Newark 19.3 million

Shanghai 16.6 million


United States $1.903 trillion/$1.27 trillion

China $1.307 trillion/$1.506 trillion

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Sector


United States 1.2%

China 9.6%


United States 22.2%

China 46.8%


United States 76.7%

China 43.6%

External Debt

United States $13.98 trillion

China $406.6 billion

Public Debt

United States 58.9% of GDP

China 17.5 % of GDP

Budget Revenues/Expenditures

United States $2.092 trillion/$3.397 trillion

China $1.149 trillion/$1.27 trillion

Population (2011 estimate)

United States 313,232,044

China 1,336,718,015

Literacy (ages 15 or older or can read and write)

United States 99%

China, 91.6%

Life Expectancy at Birth

United States 78.37 years

China 74.68 years

After reviewing the data, it became much more apparent to me as to why so many companies, most notably pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, are investing heavily in the Chinese market. Financial analysts predict that the Chinese pharmaceutical market will surpass the US (currently the world’s largest) by the end of the decade. That said, I think it may be time for the American public to learn more about China. Learning as much as possible about the competition is essential if you want to stay in the game.

Until next time…

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