Pharma scores modest boost in annual image poll, hands last place back to the feds

Pharma returned the mantle of worst-ranked industry to the federal government in Gallup’s 2020 annual image survey.

Americans pushed the pharma industry’s positive perception to 34% overall, a jump of seven percentage points over last year. That was the third-best increase among the 25 industries Gallup asks about, behind healthcare, with a 13% increase, and farming and agriculture, with an 11% increase.

However, the poor perception of pharma—49% of participants answered that they view the industry negatively—weighed heavily on its industry rank, earning it the second-to-last spot in the 2020 poll.

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Still, it’s a marked improvement over 2019's showing, when 58% of Americans held a negative view of pharma. Gallup noted that while most industry percentages didn’t change much, several with key roles during the COVID-19 pandemic saw swings.

“The public is expressing greater appreciation for the work of three industries that are crucial to people’s wellbeing: farming and agriculture, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals,” Gallup senior editor Lydia Saad wrote in a news post.

The healthcare industry improved from third-lowest in 2019 to the middle of the pack. More notably, however, its new 51% positive rating marks the first time in the 20 years of Gallup polling that a majority of Americans rated the healthcare industry positively.

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In Gallup’s breakout of opinions among political parties, the pharma industry gained 14 percentage points among Republicans but showed little to no change among Democrats and independents.

The federal government, meanwhile, returned to the bottom rank, with only 30% of Americans giving it a positive rating and 50% holding a negative view for a net score of -20.

Gallup’s numbers are slightly lower than the positive sentiments reported by The Harris Poll, which has tracked Americans' image of pharma in ongoing surveys since March. Harris has found about 40% of consumers say they have a better view of the pharma industry than they did before the pandemic began.

The Gallup poll was a random sampling of 550 respondents reached by phone between July 30 and Aug. 12.