Deloitte survey reveals pharma CEO thoughts

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Anastasia Usenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Anastasia Usenko/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags Pharmaceutical companies COVID-19 Coronavirus Corporation

The latest iteration of the company’s Pharma CEO Survey offers information and insight as to how key industry figures are planning for the future.

Knowing the plans and concerns of the pharmaceutical industry’s leaders might provide helpful for contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) and other companies that work with pharma firms. The recently released Deloitte Pharma CEO Survey aims to provide such perspective, including insights into how the COVID-19 pandemic may be influencing strategy, now and down the road.

According to the document, key strategic areas include R&D, establishing presence in global markets, and transformative use of digital and information technology. Other findings:

  • Approximately 80% executives surveyed cite shifting consumer attitudes and behavior as an issue with the potential to greatly impact their companies.
  • Changing consumer behavior, cyberthreats, and accelerated technology advances are other pressing challenges
  • Customized therapies, nonpharmacological interventions, and prevention/early detection stand to have the biggest impact over the next decade.

Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) recently discussed the survey with a representative from Deloitte (D), including some of the noteworthy findings and what the results might reveal about the future of the industry.

OSP: Could you please share an overview of the Pharma CEO Survey?

D: Deloitte Center for Health Solutions carried out a survey with C-suite executives to understand the organizations strategic priorities and their future plans. Survey respondents included individuals in the following roles: chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), chief commercial officer (CCO), and EVPs/VPs business/corporate development of 60 biopharma companies (~60% companies with revenue more than US$1 billion and less than US$5 billion). The survey was conducted in March and April of 2020

Deloitte has worked on select survey in the last 2-3 years in Life sciences and Health care targeting c-suite and senior executives. The findings from the survey are beneficial for c-suite executives and key decision makers at biopharma companies; the information could be used to align strategic priorities to current market needs

OSP: Could you please share some of the things the survey reveals about the typical CEO’s state of mind—what are they most concerned about, confident about, interested in, etc.?

D: Focus areas for CEOs include maintaining and expanding R&D, technological transformation, and their global market presence are their immediate focus areas. Global market growth, strengthening R&D, and transformation of digital and IT are currently the top strategic priorities.

Executives expect the pandemic to accelerate research, manufacturing, and marketing of drugs to treat and prevent the disease; some also said it will accelerate investments in a few areas—for example, in digital technologies—that companies were planning to invest in even before the crisis.

OSP: Are there any new issues popping up in this survey that might not have been on their radar in previous iterations of the survey (or possibly not as important)?

D: Given the pandemic, biopharma companies and regulators are exploring opportunities to work together to streamline the drug development and review processes, which could lead to the emergence of new business models

OSP: What do you feel are the most noteworthy, or even possibly surprising, findings in the survey?

D: The top issues biopharma companies are faced with and that form a part of their strategic priorities include:

  • change in consumer attitudes, behaviors and spending
  • cybersecurity threats
  • technological advancements
  • adequate return on innovation
  • policy and regulatory activity
  •  business model disruptions

Biopharma companies are making many digital investments, largely to gain insights into the execution of business strategies and improve the efficiency of R&D function. Customized treatments, nonpharmacological interventions, and prevention and early detection are among key priorities; these areas are expected to have the largest impact over the next ten years

OSP: What does the survey reveal about COVID-19’s impact on the pharma industry in general, and how CEOs are thinking/operating in specific?

D: It reveals information about

  • Growth in research and marketing of drugs specific to COVID-19
  • An imperative for companies to manage B2B and B2C customer expectations to deal with COVID-19
  • Economic challenges due to decreased growth
  • Challenges related with coping with procedural changes (elective procedures)
  • Overall impact on long-term goals

OSP: What else would you like to add?

D: Most pharma companies have business models that are focused on certain geographies and customers. Pharma leaders should identify areas/ customers where their current model is underperforming or failing and create innovation hubs to define the next evolution of the broader model.

Increased investment in and deployment of home-based health technologies are creating new opportunities for biopharma companies to create value. From a talent perspective, conquering the next frontier will likely require new talent and organizational structures to effectively play in the world of today and tomorrow simultaneously.

For more information about Deloitte’s Pharma CEO Survey, visit

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