Drug price controversies hit pharma's reputation

Pills spilling out of a prescription bottle on 100 dollar paper currency

Pharma’s reputation among patient groups has suffered in 2016, amid ongoing dissatisfaction with the high price of drugs, according to a new survey.

Just 37.9% of responding patient groups surveyed by Patient View thought the industry had an “excellent” or “good” corporate reputation in 2016, compared with 44.7% of groups in 2015.

In the global survey 11% of patient groups think the industry is “excellent” or “good” at fair pricing, down from 15% in 2015, and just 25% think it markets drugs ethically.

Results were drawn from a survey conducted in November 2016 to early February 2017, with feedback from 1,463 patient groups in more than 46 specialties across 105 countries.

The results were perhaps influenced by the fact that 164 of the groups were based in the US, which has the highest drug prices in the world, and where many patients have to contribute to the cost from their own pockets.

The poll comes as President Trump prepares a plan to reduce drug prices, and has pledged to cut FDA bureaucracy to get more medicines on the market.

Meanwhile, 27% think pharma provides good access to clinical trials and 20% think the industry behaves in a transparent manner.

In 2016, 23% of patient groups thought pharma’s corporate reputation had improved over the previous five years, compared with 28% of patient groups in 2015.

When asked how pharma could improve, 143 organisations suggested partnering with patient groups, and 63 said the industry should consider the cost of drugs.

Only six were interested in offers of training – a common patient initiative provided by pharma. Only three groups asked for pharma to concentrate on safety, and just one wanted services tailored to meet the needs of individual patients.

The report also analysed the reputations of 47 pharma companies, based on seven indicators of corporate reputation.

ViiV Healthcare

ViiV Healthcare has the best reputation in the industry, with Hospira rock bottom of a chart compiled based on feedback from patient groups.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Valeant was second bottom on the list, after being implicated in price-gouging scandals in the US and facing multiple investigations by US authorities.

The biggest climber on the list compared with last year was Gedeon Richter, which zoomed up from 43rd to 20th, while Grifols jumped from 25th to 6th. Shire is now on 10th spot, climbing in 11 places compared with last year.

AbbVie has the best reputation in big pharma, coming second on the list, while Boehringer Ingelheim is struggling in 35th place.