Cheeky Logo
Ready To Get Hired?
Apply To Book A Free Call With Our Transition Specialist Team

Top PhD Job Candidates Must Know These 4 New Developments Influencing The Life Science Industry

When I was a PhD student, all that mattered to me was that my experiments went well and that I got my research published.

That was it.

Research outside of my field, or outside of my university, did not matter to me.

And, the academic culture kept me thinking small.

I was honed in on my project and wasn’t too concerned with how it fit into the larger picture.

But, as I progressed through my studies and realized that I didn’t want to do a postdoc, my perspective began to change.

If I was going to get a job at a company, I needed to learn more about the companies I was interested in.

I needed to learn more about the trends and factors that companies use to make decisions so that I could be someone they wanted to hire.

So, I started researching and reading articles about business — as opposed to just reading academic journals.

As I learned more and more about current industry trends, I was able to have great conversations with industry professionals.

Networking became easy, because I had something in common to talk about with these people — it was fantastic.

Taking the time to learn and become knowledgeable about industry trends has had a very positive effect on both my job search success and my industry career.

4 Recent Developments In The Life Science Industry And How Companies Are Adapting

So far, 2018 has been a fruitful year for the life science sector, and the future looks promising.

According to the report, EvaluatePharma® World Preview 2018, Outlook to 2024, the spending on pharmaceutical R&D is expected to continue to increase.

In 2017, the total worldwide spending on pharmaceutical spending was $162 billion and it’s forecast to rise to $202 billion by 2024.

However, we will have to be watchful regarding pressure imposed on the life science industry by external factors, such as: pricing challenges, a new geopolitical climate, and new regulatory guidelines.

Each company within the sector is striving to adapt to these changes and challenges.

Embracing changes and adopting new technologies and policies that will shape the future of the life science industry will be key to any organization’s success.

The industry will also have to continue to deal with the threat of decreasing returns on R&D investments, and increasing competition from biosimilars and generics.

If you are a graduate student in the life science field and you are eager to pursue a career in industry, it is essential to be aware of current trends and upcoming changes in this sector.

It will help you understand the kind of opportunities that will be available in the future and how you should prepare yourself to maximize your chances of success.

Here are 4 trends in the biopharma industry that will influence your job search and future industry career…

1. Massive biopharma restructuring and increased mergers and acquisitions.

Some major players, such as Novartis and GSK, have gone through significant restructuring in the last couple of years.

Novartis decided to sell off about 300 products from its US generics branch, Sandoz, to Indian drug manufacturer Aurobindo Pharma for about $1 billion.

Earlier this year, Novartis sold its share of the consumer healthcare venture to GSK for $13 billion.

The Swiss drugmaker also plans to spin off its eyecare unit, Alcon and move the headquarters to Geneva.

This indicates Novartis’ desire to divert more resources and focus on its core areas of interest.

In further streamlining efforts, Novartis announced that it will cut 2,500 jobs over the next 4 years, mostly from its UK and Swiss offices.

Novartis is not the only pharma giant restructuring.

GSK plans to cut about 650 US jobs and they spent $300 million to acquire a stake in 23andMe, the genetic-testing company.

This signals their growing interest in utilizing genomic data for drug development.

Biopharma mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which showed signs of slowing down in the later part of 2017, have renewed.

In the first 6 months of this calendar year, the combined value of all announced M&A deals amounts to $115 billion, which is higher than the total M&A deals for all of 2017.

The biggest M&A so far has been the Japanese company, Takeda’s $62 billion takeover of the UK’s Shire Plc.

Other noteworthy acquisitions of 2018 include: Celegene acquiring Juno Therapeutics to expand their presence in the immune-oncology space, the acquisition of Flatiron Health by Roche for about $2 billion, and Sanofi acquiring Bioverativ to bolster its rare disease portfolio.

2. Increase in the number of biotech companies going public.

2018 has been an exceptionally busy year for biotech companies going public, as seen in the figure above.

Crunchbase reported that in just the first 6 months of 2018, nearly the same number of IPOs were put forward than in all of 2017.

Most notably, in the 2nd quarter of 2018, there were 16 biotech and healthcare IPOs, while only 11 companies from the Tech/IT sector went public.

This is unusual, as the tech sector almost always has the most IPOs per quarter.

Additionally, at the halfway mark of the current calendar year, the total capital raised by biotech and healthcare IPOs surpassed the amount of money raised in any of the previous 3 complete calendar years, as seen in the figure above.

Globally, 189 healthcare companies went public in 2017.

This year, the number of global healthcare sector IPOs reached about 100 by mid-July and is expected to surpass that of the previous year (189).

Yet another indicator of the growth in the biotech and healthcare sector is the appetite for venture capital (VC) funding.

By the midway mark in 2018, there have been 19 VC investment rounds of $100 million or higher.

One of the main reasons for this infusion of capital in biopharma startups is the successful raising of capital that life science focused VC firms managed in the latter half of 2017.

In the US alone, healthcare-oriented VCs raised over $9 billion in 2017, which represents a 26% increase over capital raised in 2016.

It is also interesting to note that not only has VC funding gone up but, according to experts, it has also become more favorable towards early stage funding.

This is positive news for the development of innovative startups, which are often focused on early drug development and are hence considered more risky investments by VCs.

3. Changing technology means new regulatory initiatives.

With all the growth and advancements in new technology, the biopharma sector is going through a lot of changes.

It has now become essential for regulatory authorities to bring in new rules to keep up with these changes.

Besides the changes in technology, other factors driving the FDA and other regulatory bodies to introduce new laws is the demand for putting a check on healthcare expenses and the call for more transparency.

One of the measures taken by the FDA is to incentivize the development of generics and biologics.

It introduced a new drug designation termed as, “Competitive Generic Therapy”.

If a new drug is introduced into a market where there is insufficient generic competition, this new rule offers it a 180-day market exclusivity.

The FDA also put renewed efforts towards clearing the approval of orphan drugs that resulted in the clearance of a backlog of about 200 orphan drug designation requests.

Since last May, the FDA has also approved 7 biosimilars as a part of its push to bring down the price of medications.

The demand for transparency, data sharing, and increased consumer empowerments has led the FDA to introduce some new regulation in the handling of clinical trial data.

One such new rule is the Civil Money Penalties, which relates to the proper use of the Data Bank.

In September 2018, the FDA sent a message to sponsors of clinical studies that they will face penalties if they fail to comply with reporting the clinical study and its necessary details on the website.

The FDA has also created the Master Clinical Trials Protocols (known as MAPs) with the aim of increasing efficiency and lowering the costs of clinical trials.

Regulatory authorities are also becoming more cognizant to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in clinical data and trials.

Through one of his public statements, the new FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottleib, highlighted the potential of implementation of new technologies for accelerating drug development, managing clinical trial data, and possibly reducing costs.

The Commissioner also mentioned that the FDA is keen to develop new regulatory policies that will encourage the adoption of AI and foster further innovation

4. New initiatives to lower drug costs for patients.

Lowering of drug costs has been a major agenda of the new US administration.

So far, success has been limited and one of the new options that the FDA is looking into is the possibility of importation of drugs into the US under certain circumstances.

Another factor that is blamed for the lack of availability of lower priced biosimilars is the doubt among consumers and healthcare professionals regarding equivalency of biosimilars relative to the biologics they are meant to replace.

In its “Biosimilars Action Plan”, the FDA Commissioner will aim to enhance the speed of approval and develop better methods to communicate the value of biosimilars to both patients and physicians.

Outside of the efforts of the FDA, in the US, another interesting development associated with drug pricing that made headlines earlier this year was the decision by Bristol-Myers to lower the price of an immune-oncology drug in China.

BMS announced in August that it would sell one of their leading immuno-oncology therapies, Opdivo, at approximately half of the US price in China.

We will have to wait to find out the effects of this initiative, but it signals the growing pressure on drug pricing and importance of the pharma market in emerging economies, such as China.

In addition to the initiatives by regulatory authorities, a method aimed at checking rising prices that is predicted to become more prevalent is the introduction of “Value-based contracts” by payers.

This is also indicative of the biopharma industry becoming more patient-centric.

These contracts associate reimbursement with better patient outcomes over similar competing products.

The National Health Services (NHS) in the UK, and some payers in the US, have already started signing these value-based contracts with biopharma organizations.

As technology, society, and economies change, the biopharma industry faces unique challenges to adapt to these changes. And, as a PhD looking to get hired in industry, being familiar with these challenges and positioning yourself as a person who can help overcome them will make you a very desirable employee. Some of the most recent changes facing the biopharma industry are massive biopharma restructuring and increased mergers and acquisitions, an increase in the number of biotech companies going public, changing technology meaning new regulatory initiatives, and new initiatives to lower drug costs for patients.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly


Arunodoy is a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology and has training in intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism. He also has experience with global biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, including clinical trial consulting. Arunodoy is passionate about the translation of academic research to the real world and commercialization of scientific innovation so that it can help solve problems and benefit people. He possesses in-depth understanding of both technological and commercial aspects associated with the life science industry.

Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Similar Articles

5 Miscalculations That Are Holding You Hostage In Academia

5 Miscalculations That Are Holding You Hostage In Academia

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

As a PhD student, I felt more and more lost the closer I came to graduation. That’s because I had started to doubt that I knew what I wanted anymore. You could say I was torn, but that would be an understatement. I was absolutely wracked with indecision. My original plan had been to continue on in academia.  I was going to apply for a postdoc.  Then on to Assistant Professor.  And so on. However, I was starting to see a real pattern emerge among the PhD graduates I knew. I liked to check in periodically with those colleagues and…

Is Cheeky Scientist A Scam? Who Shouldn't Join The Association

Is Cheeky Scientist A Scam? Who Shouldn't Join The Association

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Is Cheeky Scientist a scam?   Has anyone here had any experience with the Cheeky Scientist Association? Is Cheeky Scientist worth it?  What’s the deal with Cheeky Scientist? Is Cheeky Scientist legit? PhDs are trained to be critical.  In academia and in life, every decision they’re faced with is made with extreme prejudice. Examining facts, collecting resources, and determining what is a trustworthy source of information is one of their biggest strengths.  PhDs have superior critical thinking skills, so it makes sense for them to carefully consider any investment – even if it’s an investment in themselves. And in almost every…

Should You Delete Your PhD From Your Resume? The Answer May Surprise You

Should You Delete Your PhD From Your Resume? The Answer May Surprise You

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you have a PhD, you’re overqualified for an industry job. PhDs are lab rats and can’t understand business. You can’t get a job without industry experience. Do any of these sentences sound familiar to you? Have you been looking for an industry job unsuccessfully and have reached a point where you ask yourself if your PhD has any value whatsoever? These sentences are myths, commonly said by either academics who don’t understand anything about industry, or by other job candidates who don’t want to compete with PhDs. Hiring managers for PhD-level industry positions want the best candidates possible. After…

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

The number of PhDs wanting to transition out of academia increases every year. Initially, most of these PhDs were recent graduates and postdocs.  But as the crisis in academia has gotten worse, we are seeing a lot of adjunct and even tenured professors wanting to leave. They feel professionally unfulfilled in academic positions because they are overworked, work in uninspiring roles, and/or are paid marginal academic stipends, fellowships, and wages.  Far too many PhDs are unable to find any meaning or joy in their academic careers, which negatively impacts both their professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, many of these PhDs end up…

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Like many PhDs, I thought I could jump into my first industry position ready to hit the ground running. Much to my surprise, this was not the case.   During the first few months of my new position, I felt like I was drowning. Everything I thought I knew about my field, how research is conducted, and how companies operate was turned on its head. I was not prepared for this major shift, and it showed. I waivered between trying to impress my managers and sitting mute in meetings, intimidated by everyone in the room. If I had known what…

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Nothing could prepare me for the shock I received walking into my first industry onboarding experience. Literally, everything was different from what I had experienced in academia. The processes, the culture, the pace – absolutely everything. I also had no idea what onboarding meant. I heard the word tossed around but, to me, it was just the process you went through to get all the mandatory paperwork out of the way. That was so far from the truth. My first onboarding experience lasted almost 6 months. Yet, throughout that whole process, I had no idea that I was still being…

The One Productivity Hack Every PhD Needs To Get Hired In Industry

The One Productivity Hack Every PhD Needs To Get Hired In Industry

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If your job search isn’t producing results, perhaps you’re doing too little. Or, just as likely, you’re doing too much… too much of the wrong things. You may think “If I just spent more hours of the day searching and applying for jobs, I’m sure to land a job eventually.” But investing more time into a job search without a strategy is time wasted. An effective job search strategy is one that conserves our most precious resource: our mental energy.   Protecting your mental energy is the one productivity hack that every PhD needs to get hired in industry. As…

3 Factors PhDs Must Consider When Deciding Company Fit

3 Factors PhDs Must Consider When Deciding Company Fit

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you recently started your job search, you probably feel the pressure of proving that you’re a good fit for the industry roles you’re applying to.  You have to carefully craft your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile, and prepare for countless interviews just to prove you’re  qualified for a position.  This pressure can make you feel that employers hold all the power, and the only thing that matters is convincing them that you’re the best candidate for the role. Don’t let this pressure make you neglect other key components of a successful career, like company fit.  You’ll likely accept…

8 Work Qualities PhDs Should Assess When Planning A Career Move

8 Work Qualities PhDs Should Assess When Planning A Career Move

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you have a PhD, you’re among the 2% of the population who has committed to push a field of knowledge forward.  That makes you one of the most innovative people in the world. This is something special. As such, you deserve to work in a position where your tenacity and ability to solve problems are out of good use. Where you feel satisfied and are rewarded for your job. That’s why I encourage all PhDs to look for an industry position, because academia is a dead end where dreams go to die. However, you have to be strategic when…

Top Industry Career eBooks

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the best 63 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

AI & ATS Resume Filters

AI & ATS Resume Filters

Isaiah Hankel

In today's competitive job market, understanding the impact of AI is crucial for career success. This involves ensuring your resume stands out in the digital realm, mastering your online presence, and being aware of how AI assigns reputation scores. Discovering how to leverage AI to your advantage is essential, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping professional opportunities.

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.