Can pharma regain its reputation?

QUICK READ: Almost every pharma company is working on a treatment/vaccine for COVID-19 and some have even formed alliances with each other to speed development. If they develop new treatments for the virus will people once again hold pharma companies in high regards?

People are getting sick and tired of reading about how about the Coronavirus is. In an era of instant gratification people want answers now and pharma companies are working on treatments and vaccines at a rapid pace.

The chance that a vaccine or treatment will be found are high, but only with time that ensures that the drugs work and don’t have nasty side effects. Will people change their minds about “big pharma” with the development of new products to fight the virus?

First, it’s important to note that people believe and trust pharma companies to develop drugs we need to stay healthy. The issue of trust, however, takes a serious beating when it comes to how these products are priced and the profits and high salaries of CEO’s while the media continues to highlight people who can’t afford their medications.

Some companies are already rising to the challenge of an economy wounded by the pandemic. BMS is using social media to tell patients that they can help provide the drugs they need if they can’t afford them. Lilly has dramatically lowered the price of their insulin.

Pessimists would say that the race to develop a new treatment is based purely on the potential for profits. Optimists would say that developing a drug takes time and a lot of money.

There is no doubt that the first company to develop a vaccine is going to make a lot of money, but what happens if they price the product in the stratosphere? In that case the full wrath of patients, insurers and the media is going to come down hard on pharma. It could get real ugly if pharma companies succeed in getting protection from lawsuits for drugs that aren’t fully tested in larger patient populations.

Trust is earned and not given. Pharma has to work everyday to earn the trust of a very skeptical public. It only takes one company to work the system and price drugs to maximize their ROI and keep Wall Street happy. What we’re learning, though, is that Wall Street doesn’t represent main street.