ViiV tops reputation survey as Gilead tumbles

An annual review of the reputation of the top 37 pharma companies among patients reveals Gilead Sciences’ standing has plummeted, probably as a result of its pricing policy for its hepatitis C drugs.

The company fell 12 places – from second in 2013 to 14th in 2014 – during a year in which it racked up more than $12bn from sales of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and Harvoni (sofosbuvir and ledipasvir) and focused the world’s attention on the price of new medicines.

Pharma’s pricing policies were “still the most contentious issue from the patient perspective,” said survey organiser PatientView, which carried out the survey on 1,150 patient groups from 58 countries between November 2014 and January 2015.

Only 14 per cent of patient groups in 2014 believe that pharma is “good” or “excellent” at pricing its drugs, it reports.

At the same time, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) proved remarkably resilient in the face of last year’s relentless newsflow about corruption in China and rose six places to 9th, which PatientView suggests is thanks to “a good record on patient safety”.

ViiV stands out

The undisputed leader of the pack last year was ViiV Healthcare, which led the rankings in no fewer than four of the six categories on which companies were judged. The HIV therapy specialist was deemed to be in pole position on patient centricity, patient information, patient safety and providing useful products.

Novo Nordisk managed to claim the top spot for transparency – jumping eight places to equal second in the process – sharing the spoils with AbbVie, which was considered the company with the most integrity.

Novartis rose five places to fourth thanks to a high score on the usefulness of its products, while Lundbeck and Roche shared fifth place, with the former one of the biggest climbers having been at 22 in 2013.

PatientView notes that Lundbeck had been hit the prior year by revelations of a major fine by the European Commission relating to its marketing practices. Meanwhile, Pfizer, Janssen, UCB and Eisai rounded out the top 10.

While the top pharma companies in terms of corporate reputation can congratulate themselves for standing above their peers, the industry as a whole still has a big problem, ranking only a little higher than tobacco companies and the financial sector in a Harris poll conducted in 2013.

PatientView focuses its survey only on the health sector and while the multinational pharma industry did a little better than in 2013 – rising one place to 6th among eight categories – that came about because of a decline in the reputation of health insurers.

Retail pharmacists and medical device companies headed the industrial group rankings, followed by private healthcare services, biotechnology companies and generic drugmakers. Big pharma was trailed by non-profit health insurers, with for-profit insurers at the bottom of the pile.

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