Pharmaceutical Recruitment: 2017 Trends and 2018 Outlook

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By second quarter 2017 fears of what the new President would do to the health care industry had calmed down. No change in the ACA seemed to be imminent and the President had backed off any conversation about drug pricing. Pharmaceutical companies hiring pace picked up along with the economy and the stock market. 2018 is looking to be a positive and exciting time for anyone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

Top 5 Trends in 2017



1. Since the first biosimilar was approved in the U.S. in September 2015 only three more biosimilars have received FDA approval and only two are on the market. Litigation between the biosimilar applicant and the reference product sponsor is becoming the norm. The projected savings for the consumer and the health care system from the utilization of biosimilars remains a tantalizing possibility.


2. Generics account for 90% of prescriptions filled but only 25% of the total spending on prescription drugs according to the Association for Accessible Medicines. Lack of generic competition is causing drug shortages and rising prices. The Annals of Internal Medicine reported that of 1,120 generic drugs on the market, 50% were sold by just two companies. This trending monopolization of the generic marketplace and resulting reduced savings is drawing the attention of government policymakers.

Consumer Friendly Values

3. Health care costs and consumer and employer concerns has been more actively addressed in the past year. Pledges to keep prices low and commit to more ethical practices have abounded.

Drug Promotion

4. Naturalsociety.com reports that for every $1 pharmaceutical companies spend on basic research, $19 goes toward marketing and promotion. Of the top ten prescription drug brands, eight had double-digit growth rates year-over-year and all of them spent over $100 million on their marketing efforts. Well-funded marketing launches for new Rx approvals is driving some of this.

Therapeutic Driven Growth

5. Oncology and Rare Diseases lead the market in hiring needs and opportunities. Working in either of these therapeutic areas should energize your career and your possibilities for advancement.



Top 5 Trends for 2018


Company Stock Prices Continue to Rise

1. The Trump effect on the stock market has propelled biotech and pharma stocks higher. Investors have put worries of a crackdown on drug pricing behind them.

Pharmerging Markets

2. IMS coined the term pharmerging to denote the most promising emerging markets. The U.S. and the pharmerging markets are expected to account for more than 60% of sales and 80% of sales growth in 2018. The global pharmaceutical market is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4-7% in 2018 and reach $1.3 trillion in sales.

New Drug Pricing and Reimbursement Approaches

3. The health care payment landscape continues to shift from a quantity-based, fee-for-service model to a value-based system that rewards providers for quality outcomes and reduced costs. Prescription medications consume an estimated 17% of total health care costs. Drug manufacturers can continue to expect pressure to reduce costs for consumers.

Top Therapeutic Areas

4. Oncology, specifically immune-oncology, and rare disease continue to be the top therapeutic areas for development, promotion and hiring. But look for cardiology and diabetes to be big growth areas in 2018.

Shifting Market Share

5. For the global pharmaceutical industry moderate growth over the next five years should be the norm. But the new product growth in specialty markets is a trend that is shifting market share from the large pharmaceutical companies to the mid-sized pharmaceutical companies creating different career options for the more entrepreneurial candidates.

We would be happy to discuss any of these trends or your needs for 2018 further. As always, Smith Hanley Associates is happy to be your recruiting resource for Commercial and Clinical opportunities in healthcare.

Nancy Ragonese, Practice Lead, Pharmaceutical Commercial Sales, nragonese@smithhanley.com, 203-319-4315


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