from Gallup’s 2019 survey into Americans’ Views of U.S. Business Industry Sectors.

Since reaching a relative high regard in 2015, the pharma industry reputation among consumers has declined each year since to the low this year with 58% of Americans having a negative view. This was a 31 percentage point drop in reputation in one year.

This is one negativity point above peoples’ low regard for the Federal government.

Gallup notes that Americans are over two times more likely to rank the pharmaceutical industry negatively (58%) as positively (27%).

The healthcare industry, apart from pharma, didn’t fare well this year in the Gallup poll: only 38% of Americans felt positively about healthcare, with a 48% negative response falling 10 percentage points since last year. This segment in the Gallup poll would include hospitals and health insurance. (Physicians, nurses and pharmacists are ranked relatively highly in Gallup’s poll on U.S. professions, explained here in Health Populi).

Who’s at the top of consumers’ favorite industries? Restaurants (with 66% total positive), computers (61% positive), grocery stores and farming/agriculture (both with 58% positive), and travel (52% positive).

Gallup points out that the pharma industry has generally ranked lower than other sectors since 2001, the beginning of this study. Fellow low-rating industries have included the Federal government, oil and gas, real estate, and the auto industry.

“The pharmaceutical industry’s U.S. image has fallen to a new low,” Gallup concludes. “The industry can hope to recover in the same way other industries have after particularly negative ratings, including the oil and gas, real estate, and automobile industries.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  The pharma industry’s precipitous decline in U.S. consumer regard in the past two years is due to many factors that challenge Americans’ families, budgets, and health; among these factors, I’ll point to:

  • The opioid crisis
  • The price of popularly prescribed drugs, especially fueled by the EpiPen cost escalation
  • The cost of specialty drugs and those for rare diseases
  • The growing force of consumers demanding price transparency
  • Politicians pointing to drug prices, from President Trump declaring the pharma industry as “murderers” in his TIME magazine interview as “Person of the Year” in 2016, to Elizabeth Warren calling for the federal government to manufacture lower-cost generic drugs as part of her drug pricing plan.

This poll reinforces a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll finding that most Americans across political party identification would support government intervention for regulating the price of prescription drugs, among other regulatory tactics to help people manage health care spending

Another alarming number here is also the decline of reputation for the healthcare industry. Surprise medical bills, access challenges, and lack of service orientation that’s truly centered on the patient-as-consumer will plague hospitals and health plans when it comes to consumer ranking, patronage and net promoter scores.

This is retail health’s and new entrants’ opportunity to win the health-hearts-and-minds of American patients, who are the new payors.