Pharmaceutical companies are giant, complex organizations. They have to be. The complexity of their research and development, the precision of their manufacturing, the strictness of their supply chain, and their highly-regulated sales and marketing processes demand that these organizations be large and robust.

With organizations this complex, no single prescription makes them run effectively. Every department, down to almost every employee, has to be trained, managed, and directed in their own way. When you look at how the best pharmaceutical companies operate, you will notice certain similarities in how the most successful companies operate.

The most effective pharma companies all display similar habits that help them efficiently get their products from conceptualization into the hands of the patients. These habits are broad concepts that each organization may implement differently but the goals are based on the same notions. Here are 5 habits of effective pharma companies.

1. Commitment to Learning from Data

Every step in the product life cycle, from idea to use, produces massive amounts of data for a pharmaceutical company. Research & development, manufacturing, supply chain, storage, sales, and other factors all create data that can be collected and analyzed, as well as studies to help pharmaceutical companies make better, real-time, data-driven decisions.

The exact type of data and the analytics companies use to help understand it will vary from company to company. The important point is that successful companies commit to basing their decisions on this data. Decisions can be made quickly when they do this and they can be based on data created throughout the entire process, not just based on the end result.

When a pharma company learns from the data it produces, it is a win-win situation. It helps the company’s bottom line, which is good for the financial health of the company and can help keep prices down for consumers. It also helps companies create more effective and safer products for patients which is good for everyone involved.

2. Investing in Your People

When you think of an organization engaged in a process as complicated and complex as creating pharmaceutical drugs, it is easy to focus solely on those processes and the amazing products themselves. Effective pharma companies know that the people who participate in the processes of creating the products are as important, if not more so than the technical aspects.

Investing in your people comes in many forms. The best pharmaceutical companies spend money and time in a variety of venues. Creating a best-in-class workforce starts with the hiring process, bringing in the best talent, followed by a well-thought out onboarding plan. When an employee is up and running, though, the investment does not stop there.

Investing in people means creating opportunities for learning and development for the entire time employees are working at the company. This not only creates great employees but also lowers turnover rates. Ways that effective pharma companies make this investment is through continuous skills training, soft skills training, team building, mentorship programs, and career development, to name a few.

3. Commitment to Quality Assurance

Few industries in the entire world are as highly regulated as the pharmaceutical industry. Quality assurance (QA) takes on even greater importance in this industry because of this fact. The best pharmaceutical companies know that a commitment to quality assurance is not just a good idea in order to stay out of trouble, it will also make the firm a more effective company.

A comprehensive quality assurance program is critical for pharmaceutical companies. It must involve the handling of goods from raw material to the final product and often keeping these materials in a temperature-controlled environment, which is why environmental monitoring is so important.

Machines make the product go through an important QA process. As Dickson notes in this IQ OQ PQ guide, IQ OQ PQ processes are critical for quality assurance in pharma. This multi-step process tests new machinery from the time it gets to the factory to the time it joins the live production line to make sure it works as it should and does so under all conditions.

Sampling and inspection is also a vital QA process for pharma companies. They will absolutely be inspected by regulatory bodies so the companies that do this internally will have a much easier time being up to code and oftentimes surpassing the minimum requirements. It is this commitment to QA that creates a top-notch product for pharmaceutical companies.

4. Create a Culture of Innovation

Pharmaceutical companies can make plenty of profit by replicating other drugs when exclusive patents run out, but the best companies pioneer new drugs of their own. The way they do this is through innovation. Creating new ideas and encouraging them to take hold is not easy for every company. It is easy to maintain the status quo, especially if things are relatively good. To be among the most effective pharma companies though, you need a company-wide culture of innovation.

Creating a culture of innovation starts with good leadership but what happens at the leadership level must trickle down throughout the organization and empower everyone, at every level, to be an innovator in their own way. This means empowering employees to try new things, making sure they understand that failure (in the name of innovation) is ok, and creating a rewards system that shows that the company truly values innovative ideas.

5. Open Communication

As mentioned above, there are many departments and specific niches within a pharmaceutical company. It is easy for each of these mini-fiefdoms to become siloed and go about their work in a vacuum. This is not what effective pharma companies do.

Pharmaceutical companies that find success create a culture of open and honest communication between all branches of their organization. Each area is free to give updates, offer feedback, and ask questions of other areas within the company.

This type of open communication will lead to more knowledgeable and happier employees who feel a connection with the organization and its greater goals. It also helps with the culture of innovation because good ideas for one part of the organization can come from anywhere. While some friendly internal competition can be a good thing, secrecy and hoarding ownership over certain aspects of the process is not.


Effective pharmaceutical companies are run in ways that are as different and unique as the individuals within them. While no two are exactly alike, they do share similarities when you dig down into what they do and how they do it. When pharma companies learn from data, invest in people, commit to quality assurance, innovation, and communication, the chances of success goes way up.