New York, NY– The pharmaceutical sector is suffering from a poor reputation among Americans, according to new research by marketing research firm Ipsos. The second edition of I-Rep, Ipsos’ biannual survey on perceptions of large companies, shows that nearly as many Americans hold an “unfavorable” opinion of the pharmaceutical sector (32%) as have a “favorable” opinion (35%), while 33% are neither favorable nor unfavorable. Among other sectors measured, only the oil and gas, chemicals, and tobacco industries fare worse than the pharmaceutical sector. Sectors enjoying the highest favorability scores include the information technology, electronic goods, and food and beverage industries.
Most criticisms of pharmaceutical companies relate to perceptions of profiteering: “They are making too much money at the consumer's expense;” “They are interested in shareholders, not people who have limited incomes to buy medicines;" and “They help drive up drug costs.”
“Medical device manufacturers” are much better regarded than the “pharmaceutical” industry: those favorable to medical device manufacturers (48%) outweigh those unfavorable (12%) by four to one. The contrast in attitudes toward the “pharmaceutical industry” and “medical device manufacturers” reflects that much of the debate on healthcare costs has focused on prescription drugs rather than on medical equipment.
Access to healthcare is a cause of concern for many Americans. Healthcare ranks as the second most worrying issue in the country (mentioned by 35%) after terrorism (40%). In addition, providing affordable healthcare to employees emerges as the top issue for large companies over the next few years (mentioned by 39%), ahead of inflation and oil prices (31%).
Americans overwhelmingly say that companies in general should work to improve their products and services’ wider impacts (77%) and do not pay enough attention to their social and environmental responsibilities (60%). Only one third (35%) say that companies are listening and responding to the public’s concerns.
Perceived priorities for pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are:
- Developing vaccines to prevent an epidemic such as AIDS or avian flu (regarded as very important by 72%);
- Providing medicines or medical equipment in the event of a major disaster such as an earthquake or flood (69%); and
- Patient assistance programs that provide cheaper or free drugs to low-income families (65%).
Pharmaceutical companies receive little recognition from the public for their social contributions and investments. Only a small fraction of the public could name any company that develops vaccines to prevent an epidemic (4%), provides medicines or medical equipment in case of a major disaster (7%), or contributes to patient assistance programs (14%). If pharmaceutical companies could raise awareness of their philanthropic actions, they would undoubtedly make gains in countering negative feelings toward the sector.
Online interviews were conducted as part of Ipsos’ i-Rep American Public program between February 23 and March 5, 2007, with a nationally representative sample of more than 1,000 adults aged 18 and over from Ipsos' U.S. Internet panel. The margin of error is +/- 3.1. The research investigates the expectations for and perceived performance of major companies from a variety of sectors on a range of reputation metrics.
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About Ipsos Public Affairs
Ipsos Public Affairs is one of the company’s five research specializations. In the US, it has offices in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago and Seattle. It specializes in corporate reputation, issues management, strategic communications and sociopolitical trends, serving the needs of corporations, non-profit organizations, public relations firms, news media and governments. Its toolbox for conducting tailor-made solutions includes rapid turnaround quantitative polling, qualitative focus groups, online panels, elite and stakeholder interviewing, syndicated subscriptions, and proprietary research techniques. Ipsos Public Affairs is well known as the polling partner of The Associated Press, the world’s oldest and largest news organization.
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