US patient groups are traditionally more sceptical and suspicious of pharma than their peers in most of the rest of the world - which makes the 2017 US Corporate Reputation results all the more surprising.
At first glance, not much seems to have changed in 2017. Only 32% of 2017's 169 respondent US-based patient groups thought that the pharma industry as a whole had an "Excellent" or "Good" corporate reputation (compared with 43% of the 1,330 respondent patient groups worldwide). Moreover, US patient groups in 2017 ranked pharma just 5th out of nine healthcare-industry sectors (compared with its ranking of 3rd out of nine among patient groups worldwide).
But a closer analysis of the pharma industry's performance at specific activities reveals a startling turnaround in attitudes in 2017 among some US patient groups [as the charts below show].
A larger proportion of US patient groups than patient groups worldwide in 2017 described the pharma industry as a whole as "Excellent" or "Good" at patient centricity, at integrity, at patient-group partnerships, at the provision of services 'beyond the pill', and at engaging patients/patient groups in R&D.
In fact, the only activity at which US patient groups in 2017 considered pharma to be worse than the global average was innovation (and then only by a small margin - 43% in the US v. 48% worldwide).
Comments provided by the 169 US patient groups [included in the report's Appendix I] shed some light on these evolving opinions.
- A US national breast-cancer patient group cited Eisai, Novartis and Pfizer as exemplars in the provision of information for patients with breast cancer.
- A US national congenital-conditions patient group singled out Takeda as having a genuine interest in how a congenital condition affects individuals.
- The Male Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) noted that men - at long last - are being included in clinical trials and research for that particular condition (though the MBCC stipulated that yet more remains to be done in the area).
- A US national dementia patient group explained that its members are grateful for pharma company efforts to develop new and better dementia treatments (though, again, the patient group did add concerns about disappointing trial results).
- The Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (TSA) reported that, when patients were having problems in getting access to drugs in a timely fashion, Lundbeck helped introduce the TSA to a specialty pharmacy partner, so that the patient group could advocate directly. According to the TSA, Lundbeck also donated products for investigative-driven research.
- A US national general-health patient group tackled the subject of pharma TV ads. Although not in favour of such ads, the patient group pointed out that patients themselves find the information on side effects and outcomes at the end of each spot to be useful. The patient group considered that efforts to educate consumers in such TV ads should be scaled up.
- One US national hepatitis patient group thanked AbbVie for its contribution on pricing in the therapy area, stating that the company's product was brought to market at an affordable price.
- The same hepatitis patient group also praised the pharma companies that have made their clinical-trials data available on a publicly-accessible platform through the auspices of a research institution.
Criticism, advice and suggestions, of course, still featured in the 2017 feedback provided by US patient groups (probably outnumbering the more positive remarks). Nonetheless, only a few years ago, appreciative comments from US patient groups were much rarer.
Some companies are better than others
A US national neurological patient group noted that the pharma industry has improved over the years at its core activities. Then the patient group specified variation: "Some companies are better than others. We have some great companies."
Examining which pharma companies were the latter in 2017 brings the next surprise. US patient groups chose not to vote any home-grown companies into the top three slots for corporate reputation in 2017. Instead, they gave first, second, and third places to a Danish, a Belgian, and a Japanese pharma company, respectively.
- Lundbeck ranked overall 1st in 2017 for corporate reputation among 30 pharma companies, according to the 46 respondent US patient groups claiming familiarity with the company.
- UCB ranked overall 2nd in 2017 for corporate reputation among 30 pharma companies, according to the 25 respondent US patient groups claiming familiarity with the company. And ...
- Eisai ranked overall 3rd in 2017 for corporate reputation among 30 pharma companies, according to the 32 respondent US patient groups claiming familiarity with the company.
Furthermore, no US-headquartered pharma company was ranked 1st by US patient groups in 2017 for any of the 12 indicators of corporate reputation. Lundbeck dominated these rankings - except the provision of high-quality products (for which UCB was judged 1st), and also being transparent in the funding of healthcare stakeholders (for which Eisai was ranked 1st).
So why do European and Japanese pharma companies do so well at corporate reputation in the USA?
The patient-centricity agenda has been raised a notch in Europe in 2017 by the continuing work of the European Patients' Academy on Therapeutic Innovation (EUPATI), a project now managed by the European Patients' Forum (EPF). Together, these two organisations have been heavily promoting the need for patient engagement across the spectrum of pharma activities (and, specifically, in research and development). Most European pharma companies engage with EUPATI.
Japanese pharma companies, too, have come to realise that their interests might be expanded through greater understanding of, and engagement with, patients and patient groups, and a number of Japanese companies have been raising their investments in this area. Writing in the 2017 US report, Eisai notes that: "Through socialization with patients and families, our employees can better understand the patient's condition and unmet needs, the obstacles they face, as well as possible remedies. Therefore, our employees around the world are encouraged to spend 1% of their total business hours interacting with patients."
What next for 2018?
In the meantime, however, now that the distraction of President Trump's offensive on drug pricing has subsidised, pharma companies have other important issues to consider. The Food and Drug Administration's 2017 commitment to place patients, carers, and advocates at the centre of the FDA regulatory process is a measure more radical than anything seen even in Europe. As a result, US-based companies could, across the board, be propelled into taking the question of patient centricity far more seriously.
Patient-Group Relationships With Pharma, 2017
Industry-Wide Findings, 2017
Rankings Of The 30 Pharma Companies, 2017 V. 2016 Among US Patient Groups Familiar With The Companies
Positionings Of 28 Pharma Companies, 2017 V. 2016 Among US Patient Groups That Work/Partner With The Companies
Profiles Of The 30 Companies, 2017
I. US Patient Groups: Views On Pharma; And Recommendations For Improvement
Ii. Profiles Of Respondent US Patient Groups, 2017
Tables and Charts
The Pharma Industry’s Corporate Reputation, 2013-2017 (According To US Patient Groups)
Companies Ranking 1st For Each Of The 12 Indicators, 2017 (According To US Patient Groups
The 12 Indicators Used To Measure Companies’ Corporate Reputation
Levels Of Familiarity Of US Patient Groups With The 30 Companies, 2017 (And Levels Of Types Of Relationships That US Patient Groups Have With Pharmaceutical Companies, 2017
The Corporate Reputation Of The Pharmaceutical Industry, 2017 V. 2016 - Compared With
The Corporate Reputation Of The Pharmaceutical Industry, 2012-2017, According To US Patient Groups
Perceptions Of The Efficacy Of The Pharmaceutical Industry At Various Activities Of Importance To US Patient Groups, 2017 [Chart And Table]
Perceptions Of The Efficacy Of The Pharmaceutical Industries At Various Activities
According To US Patient Groups 2017 V. 2016 V. Patient Groups Worldwide 2017
US Patient Groups’ Views On Various Activities Of Pharma (2017), Compared With The Views Of Patient Groups From 18 Other Countries/Regions
Rankings Of Individual Pharma Companies, 2017 V. 2016 (According To US Patient Groups Familiar With The Company)
Positionings Of Individual Pharma Companies, 2017 V. 2016 (According To US Patient Groups That Work/Partner With The Company)
Profiles Of The 30 Companies, 2017
Charts And Tables For Each Of The 30 Companies:
Number Of US Patient Groups Claiming Familiarity With The Company, 2017.
Number Of US Patient Groups Saying That They Had A Working Relationship With The Company, 2017.
Company Scores Among US Patient Groups Familiar With The Company, And Which Worked With The Company, For Each Of The 12 Indicators Of Corporate Reputation, 2017.
Percentage Of The US Patient Groups That Worked With The Company, But Which Also Worked With Other Companies, 2017.
Profile Of Respondent US Patient Group Familiar, And Working, With The Company, 2017: Specialties; Geographic Remit; And Types Of Relationships.
The Company Pcris (Patient Corporate Reputation Index) For Each Of The 12 Indicators - As Assessed By US Companies 2017 V. 2016 V. 2015
Overall Rankings For The Company According To US Patient Groups Familiar With The Company, 2017.
Overall Positionings For The Company According To US Patient Groups That Work With The Company, 2017.
Company Rankings For Each Of The 12 Indicators According To US Patient Groups Familiar, Or Working, With The Company, 2017 V. 2016.
The Company’s Net Promoter Score, 2017 - As Assessed By US Patient Groups Working With The Company.
- Acorda Therapeutics
- Astellas Pharma
- Boehringer Ingelheim
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- Eli Lilly
- Gilead Sciences
- Merck & Co
- Merck Kgaa
- Novo Nordisk
- Vertex Pharmaceuticals