Grow Talent, Grow Brands

Category: Pharma Sales Management

The Best Piece of Advice

Alex Brodovitch (1898 - 1971)

Alex Brodovitch (1898 – 1971)


What is the best piece of advice given to marketers and who gave it to whom?

Paul Arden, the former creative chief of the renowned ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi shared the best piece of advice ever given in his book, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite:

Alexy Brodovitch,the Russian-born photographer, designer and instructor who is most famous for his art direction of fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar from 1938 to 1958 gave an advice to the young Richard Avedon, who later became one of the world’s great photographers.

The advice was simple:

Astonish Me!

Bear these words in mind, and what you do will be creative.

What are you doing today to Astonish your current customers to turn them into your advocates and to your prospective customers so that they become your customers and your advocates?

The Man Who Invented Management

(November19, 1909 - November 11, 2005)

(November19, 1909 – November 11, 2005)

Today is the one-hundred-and-fourth birth anniversary of Peter Drucker, the man who invented management. BusinessWeek reported shortly after his death at 95 in 2005 that: Whether it’s recognised or not, the organisation and practice of management today is derived largely from the thinking of Peter Drucker. What John Maynard Keynes is to economics or W. Edwards Deming to Quality, Drucker is to management.

Ahead of His Time

Drucker was always ahead of his time. BusinessWeek succinctly summarised some of the major accomplishments upon his death in 2005:

In the 1940s, he introduced the idea of decentralisation, which became a bedrock principle for virtually every large organisation in the world.

In the 1950s, he was the first to assert that workers should be treated as assets, not as liabilities to be eliminated.

In the1950s, he presented for the first time the concept of corporation as a human community built on trust and respect for the worker and not just a profit-making machine, a perspective that won an almost Godlike reverence among the Japanese.

In the1950s, he was the first to clearly articulate that the purpose of any business is to create and keep a customer and that there is no business without a customer. A simple but powerful notion  that ushered in a new marketing mindset.

In the1960s, he was the first to argue for the importance of substance over style, for institutionalised practices over charismatic, cult leaders.

In the 1970s, he wrote about the contribution of knowledge workers and for the first time explained how knowledge would trump raw material as the essential capital of the New Economy.

Books written by Peter F. Drucker

1. The End of Economic Man, 1939

2. The Future of Industrial Man. A conservative approach, 1942

3. Concept of the Corporation, 1946

4. The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order,

5. The Practice of Management, 1954

6. America’s Next Twenty Years, 1955

7. Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the “New Post-Modern World”, 1957

8. Technology, Management & Society, 1958

9. Managing for Results, 1964

10. The Effective Executive, 1967

11. The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines for Our Changing Society, 1969

12. Preparing Tomorrow’s Business Leaders Today (Ed.), 1969

13. Drucker on Management, 1971

14. Men, Ideas & Politics: Essays, 1971

15. The New Markets & Other Essays, 1971

16. Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 1973

17. The Unseen Revolution – How Pension Fund Socialism Came to America, 1976

18. People and Performance: The Best of Peter Drucker on Management, 1977

19. Management Cases, 1977

20. Adventures of a Bystander (Autobiography), 1979

21. Managing in Turbulent Times, 1980

22. Toward the Next Economics and Other Essays, 1981

23. The Last of All Possible Worlds (Novel), 1982

24. The Changing World of the Executive, 1982

25. The Temptation to do Good (Novel), 1984

26. Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Practice & Principles, 1985

27. The Frontiers of Management: Where Tomorrow’s Decisions are Being Shaped Today, 1986

28. The New Realities, in Government and Politics, in Economics and Business, in Society and world View, 1989

29. Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Practices and Principles, 1990

30. Our Changing Economic Society: The Best of Drucker’s Thinking on Economic and Societal Change (Collection of articles), 1991

31. Managing for the Future: The 1990s and Beyond, 1992

32. The Ecological Vision: Reflections on the American Condition, 1993

33. Post-Capitalist Society, 1993

34. Managing in a Time of Great Change, 1995

35. The Executive in Action: Managing for Results, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, The Effective Executive, 1996

36. The Pension Fund Revolution, 1996

37. Landmarks of Tomorrow (with a new introduction by Peter Drucker), 1996

38. Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management (A collection of articles published in HBR 1963-1994), 1998

39. Management Challenges for the 21st Century, 1999

40. The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, 2001

41. Managing in the Next Society, 2002

42. A Functioning Society: Selections from Sixty-Five Years of Writing on Community, Society and Policy, 2003

43. The Daily Drucker, 2004

44. The Effective Executive in Action, 2006

45. Classic Drucker: Wisdom from Peter Drucker from the Pages of Harvard Business Review, 2006

46. Management. Revised Edition of Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, 2008

Harvard Business Review Articles by Peter Drucker:

1. Behind Japan’s Success

2. Big Business and National Purpose

3. Getting Things Done. How to Make People Decisions

4. Is Business Letting Young People Down?

5. Looking Ahead. Implications of the Present

6. Management and the World’s Work

7. Management’s New Role

8. Managing for Business Effectiveness

9. Managing Oneself

10. New Templates for Today’s Organizations

11. Our Entrepreneurial Economy

12. Reckoning with the Pension Fund Revolution

13. Restoring Public Trust

14. The Big Power of Little Ideas

15. The Coming of New Organization

16. The Competitive World

17. The Discipline of Innovation

18. The Effective Decision

19. The Emerging Theory of Manufacturing

20. The Information Executives Truly Need

21. The New Productivity Challenge

22. The New Society of Organizations

23. The Right and Wrong Compromise

24. Theory of Business

25. They are not Employees, They are People

26. Twelve Fables of Research Management

27. What Business Can Learn from Non-profits

28. What Executives Should Remember

29. What makes an Effective Executive

30. What we can learn from Japanese Management

Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life said during the inaugural Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna celebrating Drucker’s 100th birthday in 2009: Peter was far more than the founder of modern management, far more than a brilliant man, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. He was a great soul. If I summed up Peter’s life in three words, it would be integrity, humility, and generosity… Peter was the only truly Renaissance man I’ve ever known. He had a way of looking at the world in a systems view that said it all matters.

Drucker’s simplicity and humility are palpable. He once said: None of my books or ideas means anything to me in the long run.What are theories? Nothing. The only thing that matters is how you touch people. Have I given anyone insight? That’s what I want to have done. Insight lasts; theories don’t. And even insight decays into small details, which is how it should be. A few details that have meaning in one’s life are important.

Jim Collins, best selling author of Good to Great and Built to Last once wrote about Drucker: For me Drucker’s most important lessons cannot be found in any text or lecture but in the example of his life. I made a personal pilgrimage to Claremont, California in 1994 seeking wisdom from the greatest management thinker of our age, and I came away feeling that I’d met a compassionate and generous human being who – almost as a side benefit -was prolific genius… Peter F. Drucker was driven not by the desire to say something, but by the desire to learn something from every student he met – and that is why he became one of the most influential teachers most of us have ever known.

Robert Sutton: The No Asshole Rule


Robert Sutton, a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University and a cofounder of the Stanford Technology Ventures program wrote an eminently actionable book on one of the most common corporate maladies. It is titled, The No Asshole Rule.

It is said that when Julia Kirby, who was a senior editor at Harvard Business Review in 2003 asked Sutton for suggestions, he submitted an article on the No Asshole Rule. What is more, he managed to talk the HBR, which is known as a conservative publication into printing the article with the word asshole in it. This is because Sutton believes that while the word is offensive to many, no other word captures the essence of this type of person. Click here to watch The No Asshole Rule presentation by Robert Sutton.

Sutton says that the asshole behavior includes bullying, interpersonal aggression, emotional abuse, abusive supervision, petty tyranny, harassment, and incivility in the workplace. He shows in his book that such behavior affects the bottom line of a business through impaired organizational performance, including increased turnover, absenteeism, decreased commitment to work and impaired individual performance.

Why the No Asshole Rule? It is essentially to disallow anyone to get away with demeaning, nasty, or disrespectful behavior toward others in the workplace. People who continually behave that way and bully others need serious reform or should be shown the door, Sutton says.

The No Asshole Rule book teaches you how to deal with different types of people in the workplace such as, bullies, creeps, jerks, weasels, tormentors, tyrants, serial slammers, despots, unconstrained egomaniacs etcetera.

What are the symptoms of the people who suffer such a behavior? If the targeted person feels oppressed, humiliated, de-energized or belittled. Usually the people of lesser power are targeted.

What are the tactics used by offenders? There could be many ways. Consider these dirty dozen for example:

  1. Personal insults
  2. Invading one’s personal territory
  3. Uninvited physical contact
  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal
  5. Sarcastic jokes and teasing with insulting as the sole purpose
  6. Withering e-mail flames
  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
  8. Public slamming or status degradation rituals
  9. Rude interruptions
  10. Two-faced attacks
  11. Dirty looks
  12. Treating people as if they are invisible

How to Implement a No Asshole Rule?

  1. Make it public. Have written policies and make it public by what you say and what you do. Say the rule, write it down, and act on it.
  2. Weave a rule into Hiring and Firing policies. Assholes will hire other assholes. Keep resident jerks from hiring other assholes.
  3. Apply the rule to customers and clients. No one deserves to be abused.
  4. Status and power differences are the roots of many evils. Keep them minimum by building accountability into every position.
  5. Focus on conversations and interactions. Involve the employees in decision making and in making positive changes to the organizational processes and procedures.

We cannot allow a few demeaning people to overwhelm the warm feelings generated by many of the civilized people in our organizations. In the final analysis, assholes are us. We have been guilty of being assholes. To build an asshole-free workplace, let us start looking in the mirror.

Indian Pharma’s 2-Billion Dollar Club

Dilip Shanghvi, Late Dr. K. Anji Reddy, G. V. Prasad, K. Satish Reddy, Late Dr. Parvinder Singh, Arun Sawhney

Dilip Shanghvi, Late Dr. K. Anji Reddy, G. V. Prasad, K. Satish Reddy, Late Dr. Parvinder Singh, Arun Sawhney


What is a major milestone for an International Specialty Pharma company?

To cross the one-billion dollar mark in revenues.

What could be the second major milestone?

To cross the two-billion dollar mark in revenues.

In 2013, there are three Indian Pharma companies that have crossed the coveted two-billion dollar mark in revenues. The latest or the most recent member of this ambitious, hardworking two-billion dollar club is the prodigious Sun Pharma. Lupin with annual revenues of $1.8-billion is knocking on the doors rearing to get in.

Ranbaxy, although has been in the news a lot for wrong reasons recently was the first India-based Pharma company (as it has been acquired by Japanese Pharma major Daichi  in 2008) to cross the $2-billion mark in 2011. Dr. Reddy’s achieved it by December 2012. Sun Pharma did it by March 2013.

Sun Pharma

While it took 27 years for the first $1 billion in revenues for Sun Pharma, the next billion came up very fast in just a matter of three years. Sun Pharma has crossed two milestones. The first one is crossing US $2-billion in revenues. The second one is crossing ₹ 1lakh-crore mark  (around US $ 16 billion) in market capitalization.

Started with just five products in 1983, in thirty years Sun Pharma took giant leaps to cross the coveted 2-billion-dollar mark in revenues in thirty years with twenty-six manufacturing facilities in four continents. Sun Pharma has three-pronged strategy to propel itself into the next orbit: Focus on chronic therapies, differentiation through technically complex products, and speed to market. All these at sensible costs by achieving cost leadership.

Dr. Reddy’s Labs

Dr. Reddy’s defined their purpose as providing affordable and innovative medicines for healthier lives. Their strategy is to achieve this by leveraging industry-leading science and technology, product offering and customer service through operating excellence. Their business model spans three segments: generics, active pharmaceutical ingredients and custom services, and proprietary products.


Ranbaxy’s mission is to enrich lives globally, with quality and affordable pharmaceuticals. The company has a ground presence in forty countries and its products are being sold in about 150 countries across the world. Ranbaxy’s strategic focus is threefold: focus on building worldwide branded generics business, leveraging Ranbaxy’s strong presence in emerging markets that are growing rapidly, and to continue to create exclusive and niche opportunities.

Common Thread

What is the common thread that has been running among these three winning Indian Pharma companies? Right from inception they have viewed world as their market. All of them have followed the winning strategy of TEVA, the global leader for the generic industry that has reached uncommon heights.

They have reached the critical mass that is required to fuel their ambitious growth plans through strategic acquisitions of products, facilities and companies to create a beachhead, or augment their presence in the difficult-to-penetrate markets. All of them have upgraded themselves periodically to world class levels in technology, and manufacturing to be globally competitive. They have targeted the US generic market which is the largest and most lucrative in the world. They have aggressively pursued a PARA IV-Challenge route to gain the 180-day exclusivity, which is the dream of any generic company and took considerable risks.

They have been steadily stepping up their R&D capabilities along with substantial increase in investments in creating a research and development infrastructure and the required knowledge base to launch even the drug-discovery programs. All three companies have their own pipelines for abbreviated new drug applications and new molecular entities.

They have also entered into strategic alliances with global Pharma majors for generic alliances in emerging markets. Ranbaxy is a part of Japanese drug major. Sun Pharma has entered into a strategic alliance with Merck. Dr. Reddy’s have entered into a strategic alliance for bio-similars with Merck Serono.

These companies are international and are increasingly acquiring the international character with manufacturing facilities in a number of countries. Over three-fourths to four-fifths of their revenues from international sales. Sales from their domestic sales account for about 26 per cent for Sun Pharma and less than 20 per cent for both Dr. Reddy’s and Ranbaxy.

What is the next milestone for each of these companies?

5-billion dollars in annual revenues? Lupin, the company that is close on heels of these three winning companies has already announced that it is determined to achieve US $5-billion in revenues by 2018. Surely the three frontrunners would like to achieve it before that.

A Paradigm Shift Needed: From Transactional to Transformational Model of Pharma Selling


Times are changing. So is the eco system of pharmaceutical marketing. And yet, the selling approaches and practices of pharmaceutical marketing are not changing. At least, not as rapidly as the times. Consider these for example: The blockbuster model is slowly vanishing. Generics prescriptions and sales are increasing to contain the ever-escalating healthcare costs. The sales forces have increased but the physician access to Pharma companies is getting increasingly restricted. Product differentiation is coming to a naught. Detailing times are dwindling. Pharma companies are losing respect that they once enjoyed with the medical profession.

When there is little or no product differentiation, financial gratification in the name of relationship-building rules the roost. Although MCI does not approve this, It cannot control it. The gratification-based marketing results in ever increasing cost escalation, does not ensure prescription or prescriber loyalty, for at the slightest increase in the financial rewards the prescribers are going to migrate from one brand to another. Such an activity cannot be called marketing. It is not only transactional but contractual, which is grossly unethical. That is probably one of the reasons why the Pharma reputation is continuously dipping. It is mutual respect for each others’ competence and contribution that builds respect in a relationship that is enduring and not gratification.

Some of the pharmaceutical companies have started restructuring their marketing operations around Key Account Management processes in the changing marketing environment to deal with Healthcare Organizations such as Hospitals, MCOs (Managed Care Organizations), PBMs (Pharmacy Benefit Managers), ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) among others. Although they focus on pharmacoeconomics, and patient outcome analyses, the approach still remains largely transactional. Furthermore, these changes are taking place mainly in the highly regulated markets such as North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and branded generic and generic markets are yet to adopt these practices. What is needed is a paradigm shift. From the current transactional model of selling to a transformational model.

Everyone agrees on the need for a paradigm shift. How does one exactly achieve this? In his blog post, If I were the CEO of an Indian pharmaceutical company, Dr. Aniruddh Malpani, one of the leading IVF specialists from Mumbai, India offers valuable suggestions in this regard.

Selling to Serving

Make the doctor’s life as productive as possible. If you can solve doctors’ pain points and try to make their lives as productive as possible, they will be obliged to you and the principle of reciprocity would certainly work in your favor. Doctors whom you can help would be much more willing to prescribe your drugs provided the quality of your drugs is second to none. He suggests four areas where doctors need help to improve their productivity.

  1. Practice Management. Doctors enjoy taking care of their patients. They are not very good businesspersons and most of them cannot think like entrepreneurs and managers. If you can assist in teaching and training doctors and their office staff such as receptionists, secretaries, and their assistants on practice management strategies and improve their effectiveness in running their clinics and hospitals, you will be differentiating yourself from the rest of the pack in the industry and earn the doctors’ respect.
  2. Help Doctors to remain Up-to-date. Some companies do this but not in a very systematic and consistent manner. They think that providing print or online subscriptions of some important journals, reprints of full-text articles and some books of doctors interest is enough to help the doctors keep them up-to-date. While that is an appreciable service in terms of providing scientific support, that is not all. Providing doctors with access to online resources from leading publishers so that they have 24/7 access to medical text books and journals which they want. Doctors understand the importance and necessity of updating their knowledge base on a regular basis. They will appreciate this service and are most likely to reciprocate.
  3. Continuing Medical Education. Provide online CME for doctors, which would be recognized by the appropriate Medical Council. An online CME would save the doctor a lot of time and travel and be much more convenient. Doctors like learning and what is needed is designing engaging teaching materials for them. It would even be better to ensure that the doctor answers a quiz at the end of the CME, as this would allow documentation that he has mastered the information, which was presented like most software training programs and project management programs do.
  4. Medical Record Keeping. Most doctors are poor at record keeping and documentation. That is why perhaps, despite their enormous clinical experience, they are not able to systematically review their patient cases with adequate documentation and write papers transferring their experience and expertise for posterity. Information Technology today has helped revolutionize the way medical records are stored accessed. Provide doctors with online electronic medical records (EMR). This will help them take better care of their patients and improve patient outcomes as they would be able to accurately document and access everything they need to know about their patients. If you provide a patient portal, through which patients could access all their information online, the patients too will be very happy and you would be providing a meaningful service.

Patient Education is another area where Pharma Industry can help the doctors. Help doctors in educating their patients. It is not merely giving patient education charts, and leaflets or booklets on various diseases. They are of course, important but not enough. Help doctors in designing patient education that is engaging and understandable and think of all the ways in which it can be communicated and transferred to the patients. In certain chronic diseases educating the caregivers at home is also very important. Help doctors design and deliver effective training and teaching programs to the caregivers too.

The Implications for Pharma Companies

Pharma companies need to rationalize their field force operations and retool their teams in building core competencies to meet the changing needs of pharmaceutical marketing. The sales force should metamorphose into service force with an enhanced set of competencies that include analytical, managerial, communication skills coupled with disease management approaches with substantial therapeutic knowledge, pharmacoeconomics, computer skills and practice management knowledge. They should be able to impart these skills and knowledge to the team members in the doctors’ offices, patients, and care givers in case of certain chronic disease segments.

Transactional to Transformational 

Joseph Campbell, the well known American mythologist, writer, lecturer best known for his work on comparative mythologies, wrote that opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging; we must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness. 

Pharmaceutical industry is probably going through its most challenging phase now. The selling model is partly transactional and partly contractual. The whole approach is one of self-preservation and always focused on – what is there in it for me. The industry is dependent on the physician and every company is focusing only on generating prescriptions for its products and how to improve its market share. There is very little effort towards helping the physician in improving his productivity, patient outcomes, practice management. A few companies, however, seem to help physicians in keeping themselves up-to-date and in attending CME programs.

What is needed is a paradigm shift from the current transactional model of selling to a transformational model. Such a shift calls for using one’s strengths to help others succeed. Helping the physician in areas where he or she needs help should be the simple but deep statements of belief, of purpose, of both cause and contribution. It is what creates meaning for everyone concerned. That is certainly a much better reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Which Pitch?

Which pitch 2

The word Pitch has several meanings one of which is promotion by means of an argument and demonstration such as sales pitch or sales talk. Sales pitch is a message issued on behalf of some product or cause or idea or person or institution by packaging new ideas to grab and sustain the much needed attention.

Pitch, therefore, is an essential means of communication to sell something, your idea, your capability, your cause, your product or your service. Daniel H. Pink in his best selling book, To Sell Is Human describes about six pitches that can be used for gaining and sustaining attention to get your point across successfully.

 1. The One-Word Pitch. In today’s times when attention spans are shrinking constantly the one-word pitch is your ultimate weapon to penetrate the prospect’s mind. Maurice Saatchi, the Cofounder of one of the world’s leading advertising agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi is credited with the creation of the one-word pitch. His logic was that the companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind. The one-word pitch, therefore, aims to define the one characteristic the company wants their brand to be associated with around the world, and then own it. That’s why they call it the one-word equity. When you hear the word search what comes to your mind? Google of course! One-word pitch may sound very simplistic. However, reducing your key selling points to that one single word demands discipline and forces clarity. Consider for example what President Barrack Obama did in his 2012 reelection campaign. He built his entire strategy around one word: Forward. That’s what a perfect one-word pitch can do for you.

2The Question Pitch. Questions often pack a surprising punch. This is because when someone makes a statement you can receive it passively. When a question is asked you are rather compelled to respond, either aloud if the question is direct or silently if the question is rhetorical. Think, therefore, next time when you have a strong case to make to a new sales prospect or a prospective employer whether to make your pitch a question or a statement.

 3The Rhyming Pitch. Rhymes, says Daniel H. Pink in his book, boost what linguists and cognitive scientists call processing frequency, the ease with which our minds slice, dice, ad makes sense of stimuli. Rhymes can enhance reason. Moreover, pitches that rhyme are more sublime. Consider the murder trial of the former football star in the U.S. O.J. Simpson. The jury exonerated O.J. Simpson, who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend and one of the reasons was the famous rhyming pitch made by his Lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran: If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

4The Subject-Line Pitch. Subject-Lines are like headlines in an advertisement. In today’s internet era where emails have become more like a habitat than an application subject-lines have become very important in our lives which are inundated by endless emails fighting for our time and attention. However to grab and sustain attention subject-lines need to address three essential elements: utility, curiosity and specificity rather ultra-specificity.

5. The Twitter Pitch. The twitter-pitch is becoming rather omnipresent. It’s 140 character count puts a limit on loquaciousness. Consultants, universities, and recruiters are increasingly demanding a twitter pitch from the applicants besides their regular requirements. It’s increasing importance is understandable as it is quick, painless and to-the-point.  It has become important in everyone’s persuasion kit.

 6. The Pixar Pitch. Daniel Pink explains the origin of the Pixar pitch and how it can be created in his book To Sell is Human very succinctly. He says that Emma Coats, a former story artist at the Pixar studio, has cracked the Pixar code and created a template for a new kind of pitch. The code is based on the six Pixar films, which share the same narrative DNA, a deep structure of story telling that involves six sequential sentences: Once upon a time________, Everyday__________, Oneday___________, Because  of  that________________,Because____________, of____________that__________. Until_________________finally________________. Every story that you need to tell can be formatted into this template, which follows a logical sequence and a persuasive reasoning.

Daniel Pink’s advice on making a perfect pitch? There are three ways to learn and practice the six pitches: Practice, practice, practice. As you prepare and practice your pitch, choose the one most appropriate for the occasion and answer three questions: After someone hears your pitch,

1. What do you want them to know?

2. what do you want them to feel? and

3. what do you want them to do?

If you have got persuasive answers to these three questions, you’ve got an effective pitch.

Image credit: M.S.V.K. Prasad

Honesty is The Best Policy

Honesty  is  the best Policy

What is the best business policy? Honesty of course. Because the cost of hiding the truth can be very expensive. As high as half-a-billion dollars and more. Consider what happened to Ranbaxy very recently. Its U.S. subsidiary has agreed to pay $500 million in fines and civil penalties for selling adulterated drugs and lying about tests of the medications to federal regulators, the U.S. department of justice said on May 13, 2013.

The prosecutors said that the company agreed to a fine of $150 million as well as an additional $350 million penalty to settle civil claims, that it submitted false statements to Medicaid, Medicare and other government healthcare programs. About $48 million of that penalty will go to Dinesh Thakur, a former Ranbaxy executive, who is the whistleblower in this case for providing information that resulted in a settlement.

While Ranbaxy is not alone in paying the fines for hiding the truth and its unethical behavior, this is the largest financial penalty paid by a generic drug maker in the U.S. for violating the provisions of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). There are many members of the Big Pharma such as Pfizer, Merck, Glaxo SmithKline, Sanofi Aventis, Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, and Boehringer Ingelheim, who collectively had paid over $13 billion in fines mostly for illegal uses for indications that were not approved and for hiding safety data since 2009.

Hiding the truth is indeed very expensive not only in monetary terms but also for eroding trust. And erosion of trust is far more expensive. In today’s turbulent times and rampant unethical corporate conduct, Honesty, which was a given as a basic human value in the past, has become a distinctive competitive advantage.

It is not that these companies are not aware of the fundamental fact that honesty is the best policy and that one should not lie. But why did they do it? Greed? Taking the system for granted?

As the world is increasingly becoming more interactive and transparent (transparency is not a choice any longer) companies and individuals would do well if they improve their Trustability. Trustability, advocate Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their insightful book, Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, that consumers will hold the businesses they buy from to a higher standard. They cogently argue that organizations do well to practice or rather move up from trustworthiness to trustability. They expect a company to be proactively trustworthy – that is, to protect their interests by preventing them from making a mistake, overlooking or forgetting something, paying more than they actually need to pay, or even buying more than they need.

What is the best policy for succeeding in life or business? Honesty, most certainly is the best policy!

Image credit: M.S.V.K. Prasad

How Pharma Can Restore its Reputation?

Let’s face it. Pharma’s reputation is declining over the years. It has been a steep fall from the heights of public esteem it once enjoyed. Overcoming its poor image and rebuilding the reputation are the greatest challenges that the industry is now facing. Consider the number of negative perceptions that millions of people across the globe have about pharmaceutical industry:

  1. The real innovation is done outside of Pharma labs
  2. The industry hides any negative clinical trial data
  3. The industry pays off doctors to prescribe drugs
  4. The research-based Pharma industry delays generic entry by paying off its generic rivals
  5. The industry promotes its drugs illegally and unethically in conditions that are not approved for their use.

Patient Groups’ Perception

In a survey recently published in PatientView Quarterly on patient attitudes towards healthcare industry covering drug and device making, paying and delivery process Pharma ranked near bottom – seventh out of eight categories. Furthermore, Alexandra Wyke of PatientView wrote an article recently in Pharmaphorum that the overall reputation of the pharmaceutical industry has been declining over the years, mostly because companies failed to do the following things according to an overview provided in a recent report on Pharma’s reputation based on the views of 600 patient groups.

  1. Manage any adverse news about their products
  2. Adopt ethical marketing practices; and cultivate a positive-enough relationship with the media
  3. A lack of fair pricing policies leading to unseemly profits
  4. Lack of integrity in its activities

To change these negative perceptions pharmaceutical industry must immediately improve their engagement with patient groups and act in a transparent manner.

  1. Companies need to avoid being overly product-focused in their relationship with patient groups and to have a robust patient-centered strategy
  2. Companies need to embrace patient groups in any crisis management that they may have to undertake
  3. Companies need to be more accessible to patient group partners

What Can Pharma Do?

John LaMattina, a global pharmaceutical industry veteran in his book, Devalued and Distrusted: Can the Pharma Industry Restore its Broken Image suggests a few ideas:

  1. Transparency of payments to healthcare professionals. Doctors are justifiably paid for services to Pharma industry such as advising on clinical trials, leading and discussing clinical trials. The industry should publish all the details of payments it made to physicians. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act now makes it mandatory in the US.
  2. Transparency of clinical data. The industry is often accused of hiding negative data. The industry now posts all clinical trials it is conducting on a government website,  The industry needs to conform to the expectation that all results must be entered within 30 months of the last patient completing the study.
  3. Stop the illegal detailing of drugs. There is nothing more depressing for an advocate of pharmaceutical industry to read about than yet another multibillion dollar fine being levied against a manufacturer for trying to sell a drug for an indication that is not approved.
  4. Drop the TV Ads. The companies are allowed to advertise their drugs in accordance with FDA guidelines. But the ads do more harm than good. The litany of side effects that must be discussed is numbing and probably doesn’t provide a sense of the true risk-benefit for that medication. Furthermore the public views these ads to be a waste of funds that could otherwise be invested in R&D or in lessening the drug cost.

Image Makeover by Deeds and Not Words

Pharmaceutical industry must immediately take corrective steps to restore its reputation by its deeds and not mere words or creative publicity and advertising campaigns. It must act transparently in all matters concerned with patients’ interests and outcomes and its marketing activities. Pharmaceutical industry, which has contributed significantly in improving healthcare by discovery and development of a number of new drugs many of which are life saving should not find itself in a defensive state once again. It is the same industry that has to and will deliver even the future cures. Unfortunately, the industry has lost importance and significance as a major contributor in the minds of vast majority of patients due to the attacks on its credibility. It’s time to act right and correct its shortcomings and change this negative perception to restore and regain its reputation.

Embrace and engage. Embrace social media and engage with people by talking to them addressing their questions and concerns. Return On Investment is important but so is Return on Image.

Pharma should remember and live up to what George Wilhelm Merck, President, Merck Chemical Manufacturing Company said in his address to the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, US in December 1950:

We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.


What Can Managers Learn From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

sky hook

What can managers learn from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? If you are not a basketball lover or fan, the first question that comes to your mind is: Who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of the most celebrated players in basketball history with the most points in the game in his twenty-year long career – a staggering 38,387. He is considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The 7-foot-2 Hall of Fame center, famous for his indefensible skyhook, the single most devastating shot in the history of NBA. Further, he is the only player in the 107-year history of NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) to be named as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament for three years in a row. And he is more. A leader, historian, successful writer, a New York Times best selling author and an award-winning filmmaker, who produced a documentary about unsung African-American Heroes.

Today, Kareem’s leadership skills have taken a new direction. He believes education issues should be a critical focus in the US and around the globe. Last year, Kareem was named as a US Cultural Ambassador by Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was also named as California’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) After-school Ambassador.

Kareem was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+CML) in 2008, and has become a passionate cancer advocate, speaking across the country to others about his cancer journey. His cancer right now is at an absolute minimum and he is very positive that his illness would not prevent him from leading a normal life.

Kareem is currently writing three new children’s books for Disney’s Hyperion, which are based on a basketball street gang due for publication later this year. He is a regular contributing columnist for and Huffington Post.

Kareem has been multifaceted and multidimensional. Here are his thoughts on very important leadership and managerial qualities and conduct in his own words spoken on different occasions. You are sure to get the big picture that he is not only Big in physical terms but also a giant for his philosophy, character and as a human being. They are worth emulating for every one of us in our constant pursuit of excellence. Managers, in particular can learn a lesson or two in setting an example for their teams and how to build and lead winning teams.


  1. A team will always appreciate a great individual if he’s willing to sacrifice for the group.
  2. Five guys on court working together can achieve more than five talented individuals who come and go as individuals.
  3. One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
  4. A lot of players think the game is all about individual performances when it’s really all about a team game.
  5. You can’t win if you don’t play as a unit.
  6. Great players are willing to give up their personal achievement for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody.
  7. I learn to appreciate my teammates, because you can’t win by yourself. One person can’t get it done. So you appreciate the guys who put in the hard work and don’t necessarily get the accolades or the big paycheck, but they’re the guys who make it possible for you shine and for the team to shine.

Pursuit of Excellence

  1. The extra pass and the extra effort on defense always get the job done.
  2. Fundamental preparation is always effective. Work on those parts of your game that are fundamentally weak.
  3. You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go…Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.
  4. I think that the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice.
  5. Your mind is what makes everything else work.
  6. I’m not comfortable being preachy, but more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court.
  7. I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing.
  8. To excel, you need both talent and practice. But a good work ethic trumps lazy talent every time. Conditioning and preparation are key aspects for any competition.


  1. As a parent, I have a job as a role model to my children, and by extension, to other young people.
  2. I tell kids to pursue their basketball dreams, but I tell them not to let that be their only dream.
  3. I think someone should explain to the child that it’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes.


  1. You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.
  2. If not shown appreciation, it gets to you.
  3. When we went up against teams that were better, I just hoped that we could steal the victories.


When asked by Alison Beard of Harvard Business Review in an interview: as a captain, how did you motivate other players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar replied, “ By example. I was always in shape. I was always a team player. I understood the fundamentals of the game and worked on them constantly, during the season and in the off-season. And I tried to be always prepared and focused.

On coaching, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a gentle and meaningful suggestion to all the coaches be it in sports or in business. He said: Respect always makes people more amenable to criticism or a correction. The whole idea of mutual appreciation really smooths out those interactions between people on different levels. 

Finally, when asked what he would like to be remembered for, Kareem replied, “ Well, I know I’ll be remembered for the things I did on the basket ball court. I hope people will also see that I am not just someone of a singular dimension, and that I am multidimensional, and that my books and my film are worthy of somebody that should be respected. And If that’s how I’m remembered, I’d be very pleased.”

Ten Commandments of a TED Talk

How to deliver a TED talk

How to create and deliver a presentation or talk as inspiring as a TED Talk? Begin with the end in mind. Define your purpose clearly and focus on creating a compelling presentation that inspires your audience and moves them to action. Above all, keep in mind the following Ten Commandments to make your presentation memorable and actionable.

Jeremey Donovan described the ten commandments for a TED talk as it is the benchmark for the most inspiring presentations in the world, in his book: How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of World’s Most Inspiring Presentations.

  1. You should not simply do your customary attention-getting theatrical gimmicks.
  2. You should dream big, show a wondrous new thing or share something you have never shared before.
  3. You should tell a story.
  4. You should not sell from the stage – neither your company, your goals, your writings, your desperate need for funding.
  5. You should remember the simple, eternal truth that laughter is good.
  6. Your delivery should reveal your curiosity and your passion.
  7. You should freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.
  8. You should not flaunt your ego. Be vulnerable. Speak of your failures as well as successes.
  9. You should not read your speech.
  10. You should not steal the time of your audience, of those that follow you. Make your speech worth their time.