Most consumers think favorably when they picture doctors, food manufacturers, banks, and airlines.

But the pharma industry continues to be lumped with Big Oil and health insurance in the minds of U.S. consumers, industries for which more than 50% of people in America share unfavorable impressions.

The August 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll focuses a lot on the pharmaceutical industry. The link to the poll is here:

Key findings from the survey tell a story about a health citizenry highly suspicious of pharma:

  • 72% of Americans think that drug costs are unreasonable
  • 74% of people think patients in America pay higher prices for prescription drugs
  • 86% of consumers think drug companies should release information to the public about how they set drug prices
  • 83% of people would allow the Federal government to negotaite with drug companies for lower prices for Medicare enrollees
  • 76% of people like the idea of drug price controls for high-cost drugs like those treating cancer or hepatitis.

On the upside, most (62%) of Americans say that prescription drugs developed in the past 20 years have made lives of fellow health citizens better — marginally more people taking Rx’s feel that way.

But most Americans also believe that drug companies haven’t made a greater contribution to society than any other industry has.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  Physicians, food and finance: these factors can all bolster health. So can pharma, when people take medications on-time and as-prescribed, and learn from pharma researchers’ findings and recommendations.

It’s some of the commercial aspects of pharma that people reject — and I use the word “commercial” the way inside-pharma companies do in terms of “commercialization” of products. THINK: unhelpful and irritating direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns, interrupting doctor’s daily workflow with highly-paid salesmen and -women wearing high-priced clothes, and what health consumers perceive as predatory and un-transparent pricing practices.

But DTC ads can be educational and informative to patients; and doctors — and patients! — love “free” medicine samples left by sales folk in Rx drug supply closets in doctors’ offices; and, people really love those $4 and $10 generic drug refills at chain pharmacies and grocery stores, from Walmart to Wegmans. 8 in 10 health consumers say that the quality of generic drugs is about the same as brand name drugs, the KFF poll found.

Until the pharma industry realistically wrestles with consumers’ concerns about the industry — price, transparency, quality, value, access, empathy — people will look to other health ecosystem industry segments like food, physicians and financial services to partner with them in personal health/care management.

For more insights into that growing holistic consumer sensibility, see here in Health Populi…

Fiscal and Physical Fitness

Blurred Lines: Health, Pharmacy, Food and Care