More than 9 in 10 Americans believe pharmaceutical companies put profits before patients, says a January 2019 Harris Poll. Of the twelve industries studied only government and tobacco scored lower than pharma. The pharmaceutical industry’s reputation has suffered because of the opiod crisis and related judicial fines, drug pricing scandals like the epipen and a focus on individual drug marketing versus company branding.
The good news?
The coronavirus pandemic has made consumer’s view of the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation soar with 40% now reporting in an April Harris Poll that feel positive about the industry. That’s an increase of over 300% from January’s 9% to April’s 40% positive ranking. Only healthcare workers at 65% positive rating and grocery retailers at 53% ranked higher. Most of Trump’s presidency he has accused the industry of “getting away with murder” due to drug pricing. More recently Trump has praised drug makers as “geniuses.”
Many of the research programs being leveraged to fight the coronavirus were being pursued before the outbreak even started. “This is a clear example of what is at stake in this conversation and why it is important that we continue to have a robust biopharmaceutical industry in the US that can tackle these types of challenges,” said PhRMA’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Robert Zirkelbach.“The only reason we have medicines to test right now is because companies have made significant investments over many years developing treatments to address public health threats, such as H1N1, Ebola and other coronaviruses. They are putting at risk significant resources to develop, test and manufacture new treatments and vaccines without knowing whether they will actually work for patients.”
PhRMA, pharmaceutical research and manufacturers of America, along with the other trade group that represents the pharmaceutical industry, BIO or biotechnology Innovation Organization, have spent millions defending against presidential and congressional attacks. Lawmakers that were pursuing drug pricing reform have backed off as the need for a vaccine and treatments have become far more important but Democrats and Republicans both promise to pursue the drug pricing issue regardless of which party wins the presidency in 2020.
Capitalizing on the coronavirus pandemic could reshape how American’s view the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation but ONLY if they don’t over promise on a vaccine or treatment AND don’t over price those vaccines and treatments out of reach of every American.
Interested in being a part of this evolving industry? Smith Hanley Associate’s Executive Recruiter in Clinical Research, Nihar Parikh, is ready to help at [email protected].