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Pharma’s Reputation Nightmare Gets Marginally Better


Pharmaceutical Executive

New survey ranks the reputation of individual pharmaceutical companies.

A new report shows that while the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation in the public is improving, there is still a long way to go.

Of those surveyed, 44% said the industry had an excellent rating, according to Reputation Institute’s annual Global Pharma RepTrak® report. Despite that less than half of those surveyed had a favorable view of pharma, it did represent a 7% point increase over last year’s results. Also a notable change from last year, 26% of those surveyed said they perceived the industry as weak or poor, which is down from 35% in 2016.

Overall, the industry earned a strong RepTrak® score of 71.8, up from 68.2 in 2016. The Pharma RepTrak® measures the perception of 17 pharmaceutical companies on overall reputation as well as the seven rational dimensions of reputation: products/services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership, and performance. Each company is measured by the general public who are somewhat or very familiar with the company.

Experts are viewing this increase as a step in a positive direction.

“The strong reputation results come as a surprise to many, who expect the general public to be very negative toward pharmaceutical companies,” said Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner of Reputation Institute. “However, the reputation data tells a different story. We see that the general public actually has strong, positive feelings about the individual pharmaceutical companies which they see as delivering on core expectations within products and services, innovation, and leadership.

Pharma’s negative reputation is not a surprise to anyone.

The industry has become a proverbial football for politicians who seek broad support from their constituents complaining about the cost of healthcare, specifically prescription drugs. At the recent FT US Healthcare & Life Sciences Summit in New York, drug company leaders defended and shared their pricing tactics, arguing that innovation to create life-saving drugs is a risky and expensive business.

Many pharma leaders have been put on the defensive after headline-grabbing incidents like Mylan’s EpiPen and Martin Shkreli’s Daraprim drug pricing fiascos.

The EpiPen incident made such a splash in the industry that Pharm Exec named the product one of its 2017 Brands of the Year, because of its pricing and reimbursement implications.

Digging deeper

When it comes to the reputation of individual pharmaceutical companies, AbbVie, Novo Nordisk, Takeda, Roche, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals took the top five spots, according to Reputation Institute’s survey.

The survey also states that 54% of the general public would definitely recommend AbbVie, Novo Nordisk, and Takeda, compared to 44% who would do the same for Pfizer and GSK-neither of which made it into the Institute’s top 10 list.

The concept of improving the reputation of the pharmaceutical industry isn’t exactly new, but it does have a renewed interest. In fact, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) launched a multimillion dollar public relations campaign earlier this year in an effort to help move the pharma reputation needle in a more positive direction.

With social media’s ability to make a small incident explode into an all-hands-on-deck crisis communication reaction, pharmaceutical companies don’t want to become the next #hashtag, as Pharm Exec’s editorial director warned in a recent article.

Reputation Institute’s RepTrak® study is based on over 16,500 reputation ratings, collected during January and February of this year, among the general public in eight key markets: Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, and the US.



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