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Pharma reputation lags behind real value, study suggests

Wide 'opportunity gap' for industry

The pharmaceutical industry has the largest gap between public perception and actual value among key industries in the UK, a new study claims.

Portland Communication’s Total Value Index framework is an attempt to measure the objective value of business sectors in the UK, and compare this with how they are perceived by the general public.

The study covers nine different sectors, and uses metrics such as profits and dividends, R&D levels, employee diversity and employee satisfaction as well as records on corporate tax and the environment to assess 'total value performance'.


Source: Portland Total Value Index

Actual value was measured using 67 objective and publicly available data sets, and perceived value was measured by conducting in-depth analysis of perceptions in what the public relations firm calls an "informed and influential" online cohort of  individuals surveyed online.

Matt Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock accused the pharma industry of trying to 'rip off taxpayers' last year

This methodology produced results which ranked the pharmaceutical industry highly for its actual value contribution to the UK, while at the same time consistently scoring low in perceived value. The areas in which the study identified the pharmaceutical industry creates such actual value were cited as local investment, strong dividend performance and a higher than average number of women CEOs.

Dr Jane Brearley, senior partner and head of health at Portland, said: “These findings show that the pharmaceutical industry can no longer rely on old narratives of large R&D investment to raise its reputation. To cut-through to payers and the public, individual companies must centre their value story on the life-changing effects of their treatments for patients, and their ability to provide the NHS with the headroom it sorely needs.”

The main factors in pharma’s negative public perception included public drug price debates with the NHS, Brexit stockpiling uncertainties, executive pay, and a lack of transparency over clinical trials.

The study comes at a fraught time for the UK pharma industry, as public rows over drug prices between NHS England and Vertex over its cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi attract criticism from politicians and condemnation from well-organised patient activists.

The most striking demonstration of this in recent weeks has been the creation of a Cystic Fibrosis buyers’ clubs.

This is far from the whole story, however: NHS England's new active role in negotiating deals with pharma has helped to virtually eliminate what used to be regular rows over access to cancer medicines between the industry and NICE.

At the same time, the Portland survey points out that pharma, like other sectors, is under increasing ethical scrutiny, reflected in growing international pressure on issues such as price transparency.

This creates what  Portland calls an ‘opportunity gap’, where the sector is failing to  communicate and convince the general public and influential groups of the total value it brings to society.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

27th June 2019

From: Healthcare



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