Understanding 'Critical Issues in the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Medical Device Industries'

Kellogg Professor Ed Hughes shares how Master of Biotechnology program (MBP) students strengthen his elective course.

Professor Ed Hughes has heard countless physicians over the years say that the golden day of medicine is over. Hughes, however, scoffs at the idea.

"I don't think it's happened yet," he said. 

Hughes holds this belief because of the onslaught of innovation throughout the medical care profession, led by the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries. The rate of cardiovascular mortality dropped for decades — and people are living longer — thanks in large part to the development of medical interventions. He's confident that the types of in-process innovations and those not even developed yet will have just as big of an impact as — if not greater than — what the industry has already seen.

"These industries are substantially changing the lives of people worldwide," Hughes said.

It is the potential for impact that has made Hughes' Critical Issues in the Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Medical Device Industries course a popular for one for Master of Biotechnology program (MBP) students. In fact, although it is a Kellogg course and an MBP elective, Hughes routinely reserves seats for MBP students. 

"MBP students are enthusiastic to learn and bring a certain amount of youthfulness and vitality," Hughes said. "They bring a perspective and knowledge base that most MBAs don't have."

The course provides an overview of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries and explores their history, growth, organizational structure, vital statistics, recent performance, social contribution and prospects for the future. 

The class also examines the critical interrelationships between the firms within and across the three industries and the centrality of these interrelationships for product development and sales. Particular attention is placed on the regulation that impacts these industries and its implications for firm behavior, technological innovation, product development, adoption and costs, and marketing and sales strategies. Also addressed is the strategic management of firms in the three industries.

Hughes created the class in 1996 as the first of its kind in any business school in the United States. In addition to his responsibilities at Kellogg, he founded the University's Center for Health Services and Policy Research (now the Institute for Health Policy Studies) and served as its director for 17 years. He also served as the director of Kellogg's Health Enterprise Management Program and is the founder of Kellogg's joint MD-MBA Degree Program. So, he understands the importance of bringing people from different backgrounds together. That is exactly what he does in his own class.

What he has found over the years is that Kellogg students and MBP students are able to learn from each other's backgrounds and expertise to make for a richer learning experience for everyone involved.

"MBP students bring a perspective and knowledge base that most MBAs don't have," he said. "MBA students benefit from the scientific knowledge of the biotechnology students, and the biotechnology students benefit from the managerial concepts and approaches being discussed by the MBAs."