February 2024:

As election year in the USA begins to ramp up, the pharma industry will be a likely topic on the political frontlines. Media headlines and campaign pledges can have significant sway over public opinion, so patient groups will need to focus ever more on building, maintaining and protecting patient interests while maintaining their relationships with pharma in 2024.

For decades, the US has been home to the largest pharma companies worldwide, and US citizens continue to have access to some of the most advanced medical treatments and products available today. In 2022, the worldwide pharmaceutical market share of the US was 42.6%.[1] The second-largest share was China at just 7.6%[2]. The size of the US market is in part explained by the high prices paid for medications. The 2022 per capita spend on prescription drugs in the USA was US $1,432[3]; the equivalent figure in the UK, was US $441[4].

Not surprisingly, the high drugs’ bill has placed pharmaceutical companies under scrutiny. From the pharma industry’s perspective, the opinions of US patients and the organizations that represent them, have never been more critically important.

What PatientView data says about US patient groups’ opinions of pharma, 2018-2022

In 2018, only 44% of US patient group respondents to PatientView’s annual survey on patient perceptions of pharma, stated that the pharma industry had an “Excellent” or “Good” corporate reputation. The main reason for the poor performance given by these patient-group respondents was the high prices of drugs. Only 8% of 2018’s respondent US patient groups thought the pharma industry “Excellent” or “Good” at having fair pricing policies. In 2018 patient-group respondents stated:

“The excessive profits made from direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to cure hepatitis C restricts access to the cure, and is reprehensible.” – Local US patient group, liver conditions (hepatitis), 2018

“Some companies are better than others, but we couldn’t think of a company that isn’t gaming the system with pricing policies, or using the patent system to prevent competition.” – National US patient group, neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis), 2018

“It is very frustrating when the larger companies offer ‘patient help/assistance’ – which is really just disguised efforts to ensure patient support for outrageous pricing schemes. It feels predatory and dishonest.” – National US patient group, respiratory conditions (other), 2018

Nonetheless, patient-group opinion of pharma in the US has improved over the past five years. By 2021, as many as 67% of the patient-group respondents thought pharma’s reputation “Excellent” or “Good”. The unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic catapulted pharmaceutical companies into national focus: not only did several companies announce the rapid development of vaccines[5]; others introduced measures to support patients isolated in lockdown – as the 2021 feedback from US patient group respondents to the PatientView survey revealed.

In 2022, however, this two-year rapid rise in pharma’s approval ratings halted. The question now is whether the positivity shown by US patients and patient groups during Covid-19 to pharma was merely a temporary phenomenon? The answer is important to pharma given that both Democrats and Republicans are publicly committed to curbing “Big pharma”.[6][7]

Pharma’s levels of innovation saw a historic high in 2023, with 55 new drugs approved for efficacy and safety—the highest reported in a decade, with the exception of 2018 when 59 new drug approvals were passed. Several of these new drugs tackle rare diseases, giving patients much needed hope for the future, where before there was none. But such innovation also comes with a hefty price tag.

Patient-group views on pharma need to be heard

As the ultimate customers of pharma, patients need and want a say on all the factors that might affect their health outcomes. If you are a patient advocate please share your opinion of pharma and how they might improve, so we can help your organization drive better patient outcomes, pharma policy and political interventions in 2024.

There is one week left to complete the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Corporate-Reputation-2023-Canada-and-the-US

The results of the survey are shared with all patient-group respondents

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/245473/market-share-of-the-leading-10-global-pharmaceutical-markets/

[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/245473/market-share-of-the-leading-10-global-pharmaceutical-markets/

[3] https://www.statista.com/statistics/266141/pharmaceutical-spending-per-capita-in-selected-countries/

[4] https://pharmaceutical-journal.com/article/news/nhs-drug-costs-in-england-rose-to-more-than-19bn-in-2022-2023#:~:text=Medicines%20and%20medical%20devices%20issued,%C2%A3324%20the%20previous%20year.

[5] https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines/index.html#:~:text=COVID%2D19%20vaccines%20are%20available,protect%20people%20from%20COVID%2D19.

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6407585/

[7] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/02/01/president-biden-takes-on-big-pharma-and-is-lowering-prescription-drug-prices/