Pharma’s temporary reputation bump

SUMMARY: Pharma’s reputation got a bump the latest Harris Poll survey shows but behind the numbers is more of a reality. Overall, about 16% of Americans had a negative or more negative view of pharma in mid-May, which was again on par with April sentiment. The only reason given by a majority (53%) was the criticism that pharma is not making drug treatments more affordable during this time of crisis. That was followed by putting company interests before people during the crisis (45%) and not doing enough to protect vulnerable populations (43%). Forty percent attributed their negative feelings to the industry’s “poor” response to the crisis.

It’s interesting to see some pharma vendors suck up to Pharma with this Harris Poll but the reality is that this bump is likely only temporary.

We just the CEOs of Lilly and GSK get huge compensation packages when, again, pharma raised prices. How long do you believe it will be before the media once again runs stories about drug prices or drug side effects?

I understand that some pharma companies are trying to make a difference, but I also understand that too many still view Wall Street as their primary customers.

The one thing that drives me batshit crazy about pharma is that they continue to force that drug prices in this country are unsustainable. Eventually, the government will be forced to negotiate drug prices for Medicare despite the money pharma pours into lobbying.

Companies like AbbVie continue to game the system. They have “paid to delay” competition for their top drug while taking a slew of price increases.

AbbVie kicked off 2021 with a price increase on its mega-blockbuster brand-name treatment, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease. The increase followed total Humira price hikes of 19 percent during 2017 and 2018, according to a survey by the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which deemed the increases unjustified.

Let’s not also forget that top executives from five pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer Inc. and Amgen Inc.gave more than $370,000 combined to 2020 political campaigns. The contributions flowed largely to Republicans who pose a bulwark against drug price-control legislation that could hurt companies’ revenue.

People believe what they read, and the media has been brutal on pharma even though much was NOT deserved. The COVID vaccines will make billions for pharma and some senior executives. The public is very grateful for developing these vaccines, but once the pandemic is behind us, patients will once again be fighting high drug prices and increased health insurance costs.

Consistency of actions is needed to really earn back consumer trust. Until CEOs truly align the organization around patient needs, not Wall Street, this bump will be only temporary.