With the pharmaceutical industry passing unwelcome milestones last year, like its biggest fraud settlement to date, a survey of patient groups shows that attempts to adopt a more patient-centric approach are being undermined by a perceived lack of transparency and pricing, which sent pharmaceutical companies’ reputations downward last year.
The Patient View survey found that 40 percent of patient groups believe reputations of 29 multinational pharmaceutical companies have declined in the past year. An increased number of the 600 patient groups surveyed rated them as fair and poor with fewer rating them as excellent or good. About 30 percent rated them good compared with 37 percent the previous year and 42 percent rated them fair compared with 34 percent the previous year. Twenty-five percent rated drug developers poor compared with 23 percent last year.
What’s behind the opinion shift? One reason behind the decline in pharmaceutical reputations from this admittedly European-dominated patient group survey noted pharma companies had failed to help patients in countries hard hit by tough economic reform obtain medication. Other reasons included:
- Offering drugs with only short-term health benefits.
- Not doing enough to discover chemical entities suitable for neglected patient groups.
- Inappropriate marketing of drugs (including those for off-label indications).
- Perceived lack of transparency — especially in reporting the disappointing results of clinical trials.
- Drugs prices that, in some cases, are still unaffordable to many patients or their payers.
In a rating of 29 pharmaceutical companies, Danish producer Lundbeck topped the list followed by Gilead, which made a decent comeback from 10th place last year. The common denominators that won the companies support from patient groups? The quality of information supplied to patients, strong record of patient safety, and a patient-centered strategy. Gilead’s support came mainly from HIV/AIDS patient groups for adding newly approved products to its research and development portfolio in 2012.
The latest survey is a reminder that the support of the e-patient and patient advocate lobby is only as strong as pharmaceutical companies’ willingness to back good will initiatives with patient-centered programs.