Trust and Reputation

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Do people trust pharmaceutical companies?

Even though it is undisputable that medicines are improving health and strict regulations and self – regulations of the pharmaceutical industry are followed, trust of public opinion about this industry faces a lot of challenges. The public is not aware of the process through which a new medicine is developed or how pricing is applied to medicines. The pharmaceutical industry is not trusted enough by the public mainly due the high costs of medicines that aren’t justified. “Some patients will still see us as greedy and money-hungry; there is still a lack of understanding out there when it comes to drug companies” said a pharmaceutical executive in an article of Eye for Pharma.

A recent survey has shown that only a 5% of American consumers have a very positive perception about pharmaceutical companies . The major concerns of people revolve around high prices and how the pricing is decided upon, potential price increases, transparency in the industry’s relations with healthcare professionals and transparency in the results of clinical trials.

As patients are seeking more information about their health and more than ever, they need also to have an active role in healthcare. PatientView based in UK, has as ambition to build bridges worldwide with the health NGOs that comprise the patient movement—to help define and support one of the most important factors changing healthcare in the 21st century.  They have been conducting a survey since 2011 about the “Corporate Reputation of Pharma”.

It is a survey that analyses 46 pharmaceutical companies based on the answers of 1,500 patients’ groups from 78 countries. The indicators companies are assessed on are based on

  • having an effective patient-centered strategy
  • providing high quality patient information
  • ensuring patient safety
  • supplying high quality
  • useful products
  • being transparent on pricing policies
  • clinical trials results
  • funding of external stakeholders
  • acting integrity
  • working partnerships with patient groups
  • providing services “beyond the pill”
  • engaging patients in product research and product development including clinical trials

The most recent results showed that pharmaceutical companies have improved their corporate reputation from 38% in 2016, 43% in 2017 to 41% in 2018.

Although patient groups believed that pharmaceutical companies had been improved in the areas of patient centricity, integrity and services beyond the pill, they perceive that companies are less innovative and the ability to provide high quality products has been decreased. Both those last indicators have scored in 2017 with the lowest percentages since 2011, 48% for innovation and 57% for high quality products .

It seems that even though the pharmaceutical industry has made great efforts in the last years to address public opinion’s concerns about prices, transparency and integrity in the processes such as clinical trials and interactions with healthcare professionals, there is room for improvement in this area of trust.

Patients and public might not be well informed because the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t communicated effectively its attributes to enhance health. There may have been limited knowledge about the research and development of innovative medicines, the cost and pricing procedures, clinical trials, the impact of patient adherence on healthcare costs, the strict regulations affecting all processes, the corporate social responsibility activities and in general the benefits of the pharmaceutical industry to humanity.

If digital communication is used in a complaint manner covering unmet needs of health information online, the pharmaceutical industry could build its trust and reputation.

What is your opinion?

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