A new low for the pharmaceutical industry's image.

Pharmaceuticals companies are astoundingly unpopular in the US. According to annual Work and Education poll from Gallup, Americans have ranked the pharmaceutical industry last of 25 industries tested, the lowest ranking the industry has ever seen since Gallup’s first industry poll of 2001.

Over the past 19 years, fewer industries have been rated as low as American drugmaker's current -31 net rating.

Accompanying the pharmaceutical industry in the last 4 spaces of the poll are the advertising and public-relations sector, the healthcare industry and the federal government, which suggests the interplay between the drugmakers and political bodies has not gone un-noted by the American public. The U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends exorbitantly in lobbying politicians and has the highest drug costs in the world.

While industries frequently bounce back from low rankings in public opinion — in this poll, the oil and gas industries see their first positive ratings — recent legal developments in lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers may hamper swift recovery of public opinion.

The results of Gallup’s August poll came amidst the recent ruling by an Oklahoma judge that industry giant Johnson & Johnson pay over $500 million for its role in sparking and stoking an opioid epidemic across the U.S. This has been accompanied by the headline-grabbing bankruptcy proceeding of Purdue Pharma. Distributors such as Cardinal Health and McKesson are also facing legal scrutiny for their purported roles in the crisis.

This new low in reputation is just not a American issue. In a 111 UK-based patient-group survey across 19 drug manufacturers in 2018, only 28% respondents stated that the industry had an “Excellent” or “Good” corporate reputation.

But industry ratings improve over time: the comeback of the accounting industry from its peak low in the 2002 poll is one such example. And the drug industry can mitigate the downturn in public opinion amidst scandals, in part by improving business ethics, corporate-governance and transparency.

Most importantly, by re-connecting profits to a purpose – saving lives.

(chart via @galluppoll)


Big Pharma Sinks to the Bottom of U.S. Industry Rankings