It took a Pandemic for Americans to look up to Big Pharma



Nearly two-thirds of Americans now give the Pharma industry a thumbs up. According to The Harris Poll surveys, it is a massive reversal from just a year ago when just about one-third (32%) rated the industry positively.


In its February 2021 poll, 62% rated the Pharma industry as a 5, 6 or 7 on a 7-point scale, with 1 implying to "very bad" and 7 to "very good." That's an improvement of 30 percentage points since January 2020, prior to the pandemic hitting U.S. shores.


And that's a major point: The increase stems directly from Pharma's proactive response to Covid-19 - just as some industry enthusiasts hoped. Numerous companies quickly jumping in to develop vaccines, working across the industry to share data and resources, speeding vaccines to market with high efficacy and safety profiles, and now rolling out shots all contributed in the Pharma's favor.


"They're very much part of the solution," remarked Rob Jekielek, managing director at Harris Poll, noting that with the vaccines working well now, "as long as that continues, it's going to have a lot of positive pull for pharma. Right now they're very science – and research –forward versus very business – forward."


The science-forward position – and Americans' charged-up interest in research and technical details thanks to the vaccine – may bring about sustained improvement in the industry's reputation.


The chance to highlight vaccine technology and future innovations based on advanced now in the public lexicon – like mRNA – could bring about better engaged and educated consumers.


Drugmakers can "use vaccines as a really important lens, but also get back to the core facts, proof points and narrative around pharma innovation, research and science serving patients," Jekielek noted.


Truly, experts and industry enthusiasts expect that pharma companies will leverage the positive news from Covid-19 innovation in future communications and messaging to rehabilitate its previously not-so-good image.


El Lilly CEO Dave Ricks remarked last April that the pharma industry has a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset" its reputation.