In a recent poll conducted by The Reputation Institute, one-third of respondents viewed the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation as excellent. Conversely, a third saw Big Pharma negatively.
Read this blog and any number of others, and most will come away with the impression that the pharmaceutical industry is a group that is more concerned with profits than public safety. Bonuses and sales numbers take precedence over a responsibility to do right for the common good. Stories like the power morcellator controversy, Essure, and malfunctioning surgical robots overshadow any good that might have been done by the same scientists that eradicated polio and turned HIV into a chronic, somewhat manageable disease rather than a death sentence.
But when the face of your industry is someone like Martin Shkreli, the Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO who raised the price of a life-saving medication from $13.50 per dose to $750, what can you expect? When the FDA allows pharmaceutical companies to pay for “fast track” approvals, accusations of corruption aren’t far behind and overall public trust is bound to suffer.
Pharma seems to always take their bad reputation in stride. Sure, top executives reap millions of dollars in bonuses at a time when Americans are so concerned with the cost of prescription drugs that it is actually a presidential campaign issue. But, you need their medications. So, what are you going to do? Reputation means nothing when your choices are taking the pill and living or not taking the pill and dying.
The Reputation Institute uses seven attributes when surveying public opinion. They are innovation, leadership, performance, governance, citizenship, workplace, and products and services. To say that the pharmaceutical industry is innovative and should rank highly for it is to state the obvious. Pharmaceutical industry drugs are changing the landscape in the treatment of previous killers like hepatitis C and certain forms of cancer. What a shame it is that they do so while operating with such flagrant disregard for their role as corporate citizens.