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Pharma Career vs. Small Biotech's?

PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2004 4:12 pm
by Don Jennings
I read the article on NextWave that mentions Jim Gardner. I'd like to ask Jim or any other person here about whether they have ever compared pharmaceutical industry employment with biotech. I'm going to look at both when I start my search, and I am curious as to what sort of person winds up on one side or the other,

Thank you kindly.


Pharma Career vs. Small Biotech's?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 8:44 am
by Alex

having worked at both Big Pharma (even bigger after a merger) and a biotech company (through the IPO process and incredible growth), my suggestion would be to not even think about it, go for biotech.

It used to be that Big Pharma offered better job security, a more clear, albeit slower, career progression path and more relaxed work hours and pace. Biotech made up for the job insecurity and faster pace with the potential for greater financial reward through stock options and a chance for faster career progression and greater responsibility earlier.

Most of what Big Pharma used to offer is history, in my opinion. They behave more like biotechs at the preclinical research stages (see GSK's research structure) and you are one merger or program cancellation away from a layoff.

My (very risky) suggestion would be to look at early stage, pre-IPO biotechs and ask the right questions (when will they need money again, how solid is their IP, who is at the top and what's their experience, how close are they to filing an IND, etc...)

Look at it this way, you are already committing heresy by leaving academia, you might aswell go for the gusto. Do you want to work for Boeing or for SpaceshipOne?

My 2 cents.


Pharma Career vs. Small Biotech's?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 1:19 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Alex,

Thanks for joining the forum. Your comments were great. That analogy, of "Boeing" vs. "SpaceShip One" is perfect,

Appreciate your suggestions

Dave Jensen, Moderator

Pharma Career vs. Small Biotech's?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 4:43 pm
by Ken
Can someone define "pharma" and "biotech". I mean, at what point does a biotech become a pharma. Are companies like Genentech, Amgen or Aventis still considered biotechs?

Pharma Career vs. Small Biotech's?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2004 4:58 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Ken,

Genentech and Amgen became Pharma companies a while back, basically because they are profitable entitites making and selling drugs. Aventis is a huge corporation.

I think it is a cultural thing, as well as a sales-size issue. What I mean is that Genentech may be a pharma company now, but they sure "feel" like a biotech company. They celebrate their wins with big parties, still have Friday afternoon bashes, and in general each department can operate in much the same way as a smaller biotech company. Amgen is much more structured and people from the outside have a hard time characterizing them.

To some extent, the big ones (including Biogen-IDEC, Gilead, etc) are a much "safer" bet than the startup companies, so they are rather an in-between for people considering the risk/reward issues that need to be considered. I loved Alex's analogy about Boeing vs. Spaceship One. In that analogy, Genentech/Biogen/Amgen, etc would fall into the category of a small but extremely fast growing smaller aircraft manufacturer, perhaps with some defense contracts that could still go haywire someday. So, there's a risk, but not like the "Spaceship One's" of the world.

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.