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Righting pharma’s reputational wrongs

Addressing the issues of transparency in pharma

Aileen ThompsonThere’s something about the abbreviated name ‘pharma’ - or worse, ‘big pharma’ - that is often uttered with a sense of suspicion. It frustrates all of us who work in this amazing, inspiring industry.  What other sector is as critical to the health of our population and success of our economy as our pharmaceutical industry?

But we’re sensing a change: we’re moving on to the front foot, building pride, building confidence, sharing the value of what we do and seeing others recognise it too.

Our ComRes survey showed an improvement in public perception, with the reputation of our industry being broadly ‘good’, and the industry as a whole considered to be ‘moving in the right direction’ compared to a decade ago.

People say we have a powerful story to tell about the value of our medicines but are poor at getting the message across. ‘Celebrate science in our storytelling’ was the call to action. Address the topics causing concern and be proactive and transparent about the cost of medicines and our partnerships with health professionals, and explain how we share clinical trial results, they said.

Two years ago we started to build a campaign to improve the industry’s reputation and enhance public knowledge of the work in research and development, manufacturing and medicines discovery in the UK. Like all reputation initiatives, we are making a ‘forever’ commitment to secure sustained improvement on how this industry is perceived - by the public, patients, government and healthcare professionals. It’s also about putting ABPI firmly on the map to become the ‘go-to’ body for insights, expertise and policy on all things medicines. And, crucially, to move the story of our industry beyond ‘easy-target pharma’.

The launch of the publicly available database Disclosure UK in June 2016 has gone a long way in addressing issues of transparency and our relationships with healthcare professionals and organisations.  These relationships are incredibly important and play a vital role in the development and delivery of new medicines.

We are in a golden age of discovery with 7,000 new medicines and vaccines in development globally. Innovation in treatments for conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and rare diseases have the potential to change healthcare globally. It is imperative that the reputation of our industry is of the same high standard as the science that underpins it.

Progress is being made. Our voice is being heard, supported and respected. Challenges remain of course, but we’ll tackle these too on the journey ahead.

Aileen Thompson isexecutive director of communications at ABPI and an executive committee member at HCA

in association with


14th August 2017

From: Marketing



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