Dear Chemist, Biochemist, Technician and Chromatographer- Happy Chromatographers create wealth and progress!
We all strife for better quality of life. We at Chromatographyshop supply advanced chromatography tools and know how to Chromatographer worldwide since 1995. We talk daily to technical specialists in pharmaceutical, biotech, diagnostic and food industries.
To our surprise since 2014 we observe an increasing number of depressed technical workers. Many are cynical about their job and the future. Unfortunately, many Chromatographers just execute their job description and not more. Respect between workers and managers is disappearing. Furthermore, workplace aggression is growing. Improving productivity in such an environment has become very difficult! I am personally disappointed and concerned about this trend. Life sciences will survive ony with innovation and creativity. And it has to have a purpose, that is to improve health wealth and longevity for everybody.
20th Century – Happy Chromatographers create wealth and progress
When we commenced our business there were 10 competitive highly skilled entrepreneurial chromatography tool suppliers. All of them helped life scientist to evolve unique compounds, better methods and to improve productivity. The resultant was a win-win situation with many happy Chromatographers. However, external suppliers financed their own research. There was was no financial support from the pharma managers. Nevertheless, it was also an opportunity to build ones own specialty enterprises. Competition was fierce. This led to highly creative tools and to patent extensions that yielded huge additional revenue for large pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, researchers developed an understanding for costs. Indeed, both parties motivated and taught each other to be the very best. Technical department heads supported the idea that researchers work together with selected external confidants to create unique tools and compounds.
Around turn of century US-MS manufactures convinced top pharma-managers to finance development of their MS technology and strangely, they agreed.
21st Century – Mangers replace pragmatic entrepreneurs with anonymous financial speculators
Since 20 years the large life science companies investing in acquiring Startups, financing digitalization and the IT industry. Managers consider drug discovery as high risk activity. Consequently, they outsourced research to universities and start-ups. In-house creators were replaced by administrators. Administrators are keen to develop Asia as new user market. However, India and China today have become key supplier of low-cost intermediates and API. However, they also acquired many start-ups in the west. As a result of that they engineered a fast track to local registration authorities. Asian governments made sure that their local manufacturers had easy access to the home market. India operated for many years under the TRIPS agreement. Shortly before TRIPS was cancel ambitions Indian Family companies had no problems to raise large sums on NASDAQ. Within a few years they acquired many startups in Europe and USA to become major compound supplier to agrichemical and pharmaceutical companies in western economies. At the same time the Indian patent office created a situation where Indian researcher obtain patent protection for slightly modified compound structure from overseas. (Glyvec Drama). In the same time China established their own Pharmacopeia. Many dyestuff manufacturers that competed with western companies shifted to become pharmaceutical compounds and API manufacturers.
Biopharmaceutical – new opportunities for Happy Chromatographers create wealth and progress
Research and new knowledge in Biology, Biotechnology and Biochemistry created many new technologies. This resulted in new therapeutic and diagnostic applications. Moreover, many countries in Asia, South America and Africa commenced drug development. Unfortunately, the new possibilities also led to cost explosions. Administrators started to employ highly specialised knowledge and skills from the Millennial Generation. Unfortunately, they forgot to mix them with them with multidisciplinary specialists from earlier generations to foster cross-fertilization of ideas and a knowledge.
By about 2010 large pharmaceutical companies consolidated their purchasing activities. Consumables had to be procured through one approved supply company. Under those condition small innovative compounds and tool suppliers suddenly could not communicate with clients anymore. Researchers in-turn lost access to diverse range of creative tools that empowered creation unique compounds and processes. We too we invested considerable time in extending patent life. This brought huge additional revenues for our clients. We were deeply shocked when we saw that purchasing departments destroyed such resources. Billions of additional revenue were destroyed – and nobody was responsible for the damage caused.
What is the purpose of the life sciences?
The sole purpose for the life sciences industries is to improve health, quality of life and long-jebety. This can only be achieved with new, diagnostics and therapeutics, medicinal, genetic and microbiome technologies. The precursors of such technologies is research and development. R & D doesn’t produce revenue. Most Governments invest 2- 4 % of GDP in public research. Most of the research funds are consumed by public Research organization and for prove of concept research experiments by that highly educated people. Less than 1 per mil of the projects are taken further into the commercial domain by startups. In life sciences most startups are financed by large Life science companies through Venture Capital and some Business Angels. From the startups 10 to 20 % survive. However, most of them become finally owned by large enterprises. The drivers behind that are finance organization and governments. Social security funds have to be invested in lucrative ventures and stock markets. Since 2008 we are in an era of “cheap money”. It has become difficult to find lucrative investments. Life science product manufacturer can still command large profit margins. Since the mid-eighties institutional investors besides governments are in control of the life science companies. Both pursue different objectives. For governments the life science industry offers new jobs for highly educated people. For the finance sector it is a high margin industry with high overheads that can be minimized to increase ROI. Financiers operate more like locust – they suddenly appear with large sums of funds, consume and move on to the next opportunity. Healing or repairing humans is complex. To create healing/repairing solution is more complex and takes statistically 14 years. Financial greed can quickly stop progress in the life sciences.
Compared to the US and European strategies China and Japan handle industrial development with a long-term focus. In Japan we see the emergence of highly specialized private companies that network together as they have done in the Zaibatsu era. In a few years time we can compare the results produced by the different system.
Financier try to increase profitability by commoditizing research and replacing technical staff by AI.
Few large pharmaceutical companies decide to consolidate procurement of research tools. They appointed finance driven sole purchasing Lab supply companies on the promise to get large turn-over. Many of the innovative component manufacturer were acquired and integrated in large global constructs. For the simple reason to maximize returns they condensed product ranges and reduced overheads by releasing the R & D staff. Technical sales staff was replaced with Product manager low cost and unskilled order takers.
At the customers end scientist suddenly had to perform research and discover new compounds that can be IPR protected with commodity raw materials and tools. Furthermore, delivery lead times doubled and wrong purchases increased dramatically. As salaried employees Scientist don’t challenge managers to endeanger job stability. They know that it is impossible in advanced research to get anywhere with ordinary tools.
A few years ago large IT companies tried to convinced leading pharma manager that they can heal people with software solutions. In the meantime they convinced the Pharma manager that AI based diagnostics is the secret tool to get direct to the patients and to eliminate the GP. Pharma manager see it as great opportunity to increase their profit margin. AI R & D is more the 40 years under way and produces large data. AI today is mature for controlling processes with few variables. To out smart human nature or to create new healing tool AI is fare away from being productive.
Productivity improvement is the most important factor in the life science industry
As a matter of facts, young people are deeply concerned about losing the leading edge in western life sciences. On the other-hand their superior prefer acquiring companies or completed problem solutions from our competitors.
We must return to improving our understanding of the life sciences and technologies. Leaders in Life sciences have done little to create useful and reproducible theories. Everything is still serendipity. Under such condition productivity will continue to decline.
Indeed, it is time for western life science enterprises to discuss survival strategies for the industry per se and its drivers