The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted patients who were already deeply engaged with their own health care before the coronavirus emerged.

Compared with a year ago, more patients and their advocates are seeking quality therapies, innovation, engagement, and integrity from pharmaceutical companies, based on research published today from PatientView.

PatientView, based in the UK, has collaborated with over 40,000 patient advocacy organizations globally marking over 10 years doing this research.

The eleventh annual report on the Corporate Reputation of Pharma was conducted among 2,150 patient groups between November 2021 and February 2022, covering health citizens in Europe (with 1,229 organizations), North America (among 364 groups), Asia (273 groups, including 86 based in Australasia), Latin America (242 patient groups), and Africa (26 groups).

Together, these patient groups represented about 19 million patients’ perspectives for 2021. They also covered 23 disease specialties, most prevalent including cancer, autoimmune, neurological, rare diseases, HIV/AIDS, and respiratory/allergy, among many others.

The study explores patients’ views of the pharma industry as a whole as well as individual pharma companies by name, numbering 47 in this 2021 survey.

You can explore the questionnaire in its entirety at this link, which includes access to PDFs in each of 21 languages, from “A” (Arabic) to “T” (Turkish).

Health citizens respond to each of nine areas that PatientView believes address pharma’s corporate reputation, shown in the diagram. A tenth indicator, patient support during the COVID-19 pandemic, was added in this year’s study.

The key indicators of pharma reputation were,

  • Involvement in R&D
  • Transparency
  • Support and services
  • Patient-group relationships
  • Patient safety
  • High quality products
  • Patient information
  • Patient centricity, and,
  • Integrity, plus
  • COVID-19.

The press release lists the names of each of the 47 individual pharma companies assessed, such as Big Pharma leaders like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer, along with companies associated with biotech like Amgen, Biogen, Genentech, and Gilead. Generics such as Mylan and Teva, among others.

Growing positive views on pharma reputation in 2021 were influenced by the industry’s collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PatientView concludes from the survey results. This comports with other recent studies on pharma reputation and trust, such as the Edelman Trust Barometer and the Axios-Harris Poll 100, the latter of which found consumers ranking life science companies akin to some of their favorite retail brands.

Overall, the top five companies among the 47 that ranked most highly for corporate reputation among patient groups familiar with the company were:

  1. Viiv Healthcare
  2. Pfizer
  3. Roche/Genentech
  4. Gilead Science, and
  5. Janssen.

PatientView writes in its conclusion that “many of the 47 companies” are building strategies around patients, corresponding to (some) of the elements assessed in the survey.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  In its study press release, PatientView included this quote from a national cancer patient group representative from the U.S.

I’ll call attention to a middle section from the quote:

“Covid has been horrible. But cancer has been doing this to Americans for decades and decades. It did not hit pause during Covid. Covid caused those we serve to have their treatments postponed, creating worse long-term outcomes as the unvaccinated flooded the hospital beds.”

This patient advocate speaks for millions of patients who may not have succumbed to the coronavirus, but were certainly directly impacted by one particular  side effect of the virus: that is, medical distancing and postponement of services and treatments.

Another side effect which patients dealing with cancer and other conditions associated with newer higher-cost/-priced specialty drugs have been dealing with, pre- and now as the pandemic wanes is financial. Patient access takes many forms, and financial is one that hit many households adversely impacted by job loss or other fiscal impact in the wake of the pandemic-era economy.

In 2022, with households facing general price inflation, families will continue to be faced with balancing paying for health care vis-à-vis mortgages and rent, utilities and energy costs, and food. Expect patient access programs to need more hands, and more creative approaches, on deck in and beyond 2022.