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Is the pharma industry bad?

Surveys of doctors and the public suggest not

Online Physician CommunitiesThe pharma industry has always had its critics and Ben Goldacre discusses the key criticisms levelled against it in his book, Bad Pharma, where he examines lack of transparency over data, and payments to doctors and other key decision-makers in healthcare.

However, despite the controversy, a recent Ipsos survey of consumers in 24 countries rated pharma 7th out of 22 industries, ranging from restaurants and retail to insurance and tobacco, and showed that more people felt positive than negative about the industry.

Asked what they would like to see from pharma, the key requests from consumers were 'develop new treatments, ensure the safety of its products and make products available at low cost, particularly for the developing world'.

So what do doctors think about pharma? In August this year, M3 - the global provider of technology services in healthcare - conducted a survey among more than 1,800 doctors across the EU in order to understand their attitudes to new developments in patient care. 

We found that overall, 72% of respondents thought that new treatments would significantly improve the outlook for their patients in the next three years and this figure was even higher for some specialties such as diabetes and oncology. Not surprisingly, 80% of doctors said they were interested in keeping up to date with new developments about drugs.

Not many other industries have such high expectations from their key customers, or indeed such a fantastic opportunity to market products to them. Yet, despite all the positives, many pharma companies find it very hard to market their products to doctors.

I believe this is because all too often there is a mismatch between what doctors want to hear from pharma and what pharma wants to tell them - i.e. pharma tends to focus on pushing promotional messages to doctors via its '' websites rather than providing them with transparent, evidence-based information.

The value of clinical papers/evidence was highlighted by our EU research, which found they had the greatest impact on doctors' prescribing decisions, with 54% of respondents putting them at the top of the list and only 4% selecting promotional information from pharma.

Our research also showed that doctors are aware that they need to keep abreast of guidelines both national and international, and ensure they are prescribing in line with best practice and what is funded by their healthcare systems.

So the bottom line is that doctors are very aware that they must constantly update their knowledge and are optimistic about the improvements in care that new pharmaceutical products can bring. This provides a great opportunity for pharma to use its expertise to engage in more effective dialogue with them. Is pharma ready to start talking?

For more information on M3, the global provider of technology services in healthcare, and its new European Division which includes,, and, please call Tim Ringrose on +44 (0)1235 828400, or email

Article by
Dr Tim Ringrose

CEO of M3 Europe

22nd October 2014

From: Marketing, Healthcare



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Redbow Consulting Group is a specialist healthcare management consultancy specialising in business strategy and marketing...