- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s prowess in immuno-oncology has made its workforce in that field an attractive target for rivals like Pfizer Inc. and Celgene Corp., according to a new report.
- "BMS has successfully branded itself a leader in I-O R&D," hiQ Labs Inc., a technology services provider specializing in employee recruitment and retention, said in its report. "While this undoubtedly attracts strong talent, it also left their workforce ripe for external 'poaching' from newer entrants in the I-O space."
- To draw such conclusions, hiQ analyzed the LinkedIn profiles of 18,000 employees working in immuno-oncology at 10 of the top companies in the therapeutic area. It tracked what jobs the workers were leaving and heading to, and used proprietary algorithms to predict which drugmakers could lose their talent. While Bristol has been prime poaching material, hiQ determined AbbVie Inc. is currently most at-risk of losing talent.
The report from hiQ comes as the pharmaceutical industry pours enormous amounts of money into immuno-oncology. Earlier this month, Bristol agreed to pay an astounding $1.85 billion upfront for rights to Nektar Therapeutics' early-stage immmune-stimulatory agent.
Bristol's biggest rival Merck & Co., meanwhile, has more than 700 clinical trials underway testing its flagship drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in a variety of cancers — and often in combination with other treatments. Though down a smidge from 2016, Merck still spent $10 billion on R&D last year.
Yet to keep the engines running, immuno-oncology drugmakers need talented scientists, engineers and sales teams. Some, it would seem, have done better at securing that talent.
Johnson and Johnson, for instance, is proving itself the best at attracting young professionals in the immuno-oncology space, according to the report. Such professionals are 28% more likely to head to the pharma giant than the nine other companies hiQ evaluated. AstraZeneca plc and Merck were second and third behind J&J, whereas Bristol, Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer were at the bottom of the list.
Strong recruitment appears to be a double-edged sword, however. J&J, AstraZeneca and Merck were also three of the top four companies at-risk of losing their immuno-oncology talent to others. The only drugmaker to outrank them was AbbVie, largely because hiQ's analysis found a "significant correlation" between a company's success and its risk of losing immuno-oncology talent. AbbVie's stock has nearly doubled in the last 12 months, and traded $118 apiece on Feb. 23.
Given the ebb and flow of workforces, hiQ warned against any company getting complacent with their talent acquisition strategies. Indeed, its report found that immuno-oncology employees work in a "dynamic environment" and change jobs about every four years, on average.
"Essentially, all of the major pharmaceutical players are 'starting with the same chess pieces' in regards to their I-O skill footprints. It is how they leverage and foster those skills that makes the difference," hiQ said.
The 10 companies hiQ evaluated were AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol, Celgene, J&J, Lilly, Merck, Novartis AG, Pfizer and Roche AG.