Oh, how quickly people forget…and slow to forgive.
U.S. consumers’ positive views for healthcare, pharma and retail have significantly fallen in just one year, the latest annual Gallup poll of industry rankings in America found as of August 2023. This stat for the pharma industry was the lowest Gallup ever recorded for the sector since 2001.
I can’t help hearing Paul Simon’s lyrics to Slip Slidin’ Away….”you know the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip slidin’ away” when it comes to health citizens’ perceptions of pharma and the healthcare industry.
For a couple of years, the reputation of Big Pharma was bolstered by the fast-tracked mRNA platformed vaccine to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Peoples’ memories are all too short, it seems, as pharma’s reputation has indeed been slip slidin’ down the league table of other industries U.S. consumers deal with.
In the past year, consumer love grew for airlines — as travelers’ pent-up demand to get away on vacations manifested — along with growing affection (book reading on the beach?!) and the travel industry (ditto).
Here’s another lens on the new Gallup data, illustrating the industry sector ratings from consumers’ most positive views to most negative. At the very bottom of the list is the pharmaceutical industry, with net 60% of people feeling negative about pharma (28% somewhat negative + 32% feeling very negative). That’s 1 in 3 Americans having “very negative” views on pharma.
Just above pharma at the bottom of the perception list were the Federal government, oil & gas (think petrol prices at the pump), lawyers, and the ad & PR industry.
I will also point you up the table to healthcare, which has a significant proportion at 49%, roughly one-half, of U.S. consumers feeling negative, along with 45% of people saying education falls into negative territory.
Here’s the historic longitudinal line graph on the pharma industry, skewing strongly negative in the words of Gallup: while 18% of people in the U.S. view the sector positively, 60% go negative on pharma.
The proportion of people feeling “meh,” or neutral, has stayed even at around 20%, or 1 in 5 health consumers.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: There’s some health politics to consider when we look at Gallup’s close-up by U.S. partisan ID. Republicans’ support for pharma has slid further down than Democrats, shown in the line chart based on the net of folks viewing the industry as either very or somewhat positive.
I was intrigued by Republicans’ spike upward in positivity in 2019-2020, then Democrats’ in 2021-22….with the obvious observation that the occupant in the Oval Office of the White House changed in the interval.
Nonetheless, there is not a lot of love for the pharma industry right now in the second half of 2023. With tri-partisan support among U.S. voters supporting Medicare negotiation with drug companies to lower prices of prescription medicines, this is one of a handful of national issues facing U.S. citizens-as-health-citizens bringing people together cross-political party affiliation.