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Saturday, February 09, 2013

150,000 Jobs Lost Since 2009

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 51% of pharmaceutical execs are of the opinion that it's getting harder to find good help. As reported by Pharmalot:
...a slight majority of drugmakers complain that it has become increasingly difficult to find the right talent and most worry they will not have access to the people they need to hire.
If this abstract group of humans, the pharma executives, has such a good idea of who the right people are, why did they hire all of the wrong people in the last couple of decades?

Since we think that the Cargo Cult mentality is the hidden story behind this industry, we find the question of finding talent interesting for other reasons. The question we ponder is about the actual research conducted by PricewaterhouseCooper and the innumeracy that goes into considering the validity of their work.

Driving home this evening I heard an ad from a Las Vegas odds maker. If you want to gamble and win, you give him some money and he will let you in on a few sure bets. Of course, if you take his advice and lose, the money you bet plus the money you paid the expert is all gone. No refunds. Knowing the odds is what gambling is all about. Once you figure out how tough it is to make a living gambling you might just want to turn to a safer bet. Rather than laying down your own money on the Superbowl, have people give you money for your pick. Genius! Don't be the gambler.

That is what we have here with the PricewaterhouseCooper research team. They serve as the expert selling the unknown knowledge hidden to the common man. The bias we may all have, that massive layoffs lead to talent shortages is not even being quantitated. The experts in judging an industry merely asked the experts who run the industry for their opinion. Even if difficulty is encountered when hiring the talent, it could just be that the experts are not good at identifying talent. Simply because the executives feel uncomfortable is no indication that talent does not exist?  It's just a feeling, like our gambling friends feelings about the Lakers chances over the Bulls next week.

What was lost in the course of laying off 150,000 people since 2009. Only the executives know. They are like the seller of gambling secrets. They know something you don't. At least, that is what they are selling.

Did you know that the word gullible can't be found in the dictionary?

What are the odds that the pharma experts in this research know what they are doing? They have yet to come up with anything as powerful as a proper diet and daily exercise. They attack single targets with the usual suspects; small molecules, antibodies, RNAi... and they want us to believe that clinical data is solid. Just don't ask for the raw data. The industry has been propped up by the occasional useful product. Antibiotics, Insulin, the Polio vaccine are the kinds of breakthroughs we wish for. Drug products like Provenge are what we seem to get. It appears that the talent they seek is in finding people who are best at hammering square pegs through round holes. The status quo has a track record of not being able to predict the breakthroughs. Without predictable success in our pipelines, we select for corporate types who succeed where more honest types accept defeat. As a result, chances are we'll lose more jobs. Some of the jobs may just be currently held by someone who offered up their expert opinions to PWC.
51 percent of life science execs – which is the highest of 19 sectors examined – say that hiring is getting tough and only 28 percent are confident about finding the right candidates. This comes as roughly 60 percent of pharma execs plan to invest more heavily over the next three years to create a more skilled workforce and 72 percent intend to boost their R&D capacity over the next 12 months, PwC Health Research Institute reports.
The ex-gambler who now sells his knowledge is an expert. He knows the odds and the futility of placing the bets. He makes the picks, sells them, and lets the gamblers lose. Perhaps the biotech/pharma industry, after sacking 150,000 people, has become concentrated with similar experts. They know where the risks lie in a career path in the industry. In spite of all of the losses, they are still there selling their knowledge. Quantitating that knowledge is most likely not going to provide any insight on the future in the drug industry.

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