Public Opinion of Pharma Industry Hits Lowest Point Ever in Gallup Poll

September 4, 2019
Allison Inserro

The pharmaceutical industry hit bottom in public opinion, ranking last in Gallup’s list of 25 industries, according to a new annual poll.

The pharmaceutical industry hit bottom in public opinion, ranking last in Gallup’s list of 25 industries, according to a new annual poll.

The drug industry eclipsed the federal government for the lowest spot; in terms of its net-positive score; the government has been last or tied for last from 2011 through last year.

Americans are more than twice as likely to rate the pharmaceutical industry negatively (58%) as positively (27%), giving it a net-positive score of —31.

Net ratings for pharma have never been lower since Gallup’s poll about industries began in 2001. Over the past 19 years, few industries have been rated lower than the drug industry's current —31 net rating. Besides the federal government, other sectors in low regard have been the oil and gas, real estate, and automobile industries.

These data, which show the healthcare industry's negative ratings also exceed its positive ratings by double digits, are from Gallup's annual Work and Education poll, conducted from August 1 to 14.

The dead-last ranking comes amid continuing criticism of the drug industry. Democratic presidential candidates have turned cost issues into a rallying cry, and the industry’s role in the opioid crisis has been unveiled through massive lawsuits.

While there has been no shortage of hearings on Capitol Hill for the past year to address rising drug prices—whether it took the form of patients speaking out about rising insulin costs or executives talking about efforts to reform the use of patents—there has been little action, apart from actions taken by the Trump administration.

For instance, HHS has released 2 potential pathways for allowing the prospective importation of some drugs that were intended for foreign markets. But an effort to require drug pricing in television advertising has been blocked by the courts.

Gallup said the drug industry can hope to recover in the same way other industries have after particularly negative ratings. Real estate, for example, moved from being near the bottom of the list, with a net rating of —40 in 2008, to its current spot among the top 10-rated industries with a +30 net rating.

However, Gallup said a public image recovery is not likely until the drug pricing issue is resolved and the opioid crisis has passed.

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