Pharma reputation scores drop to pre-COVID levels as Haleon tops most respected, but it's a huge fall from grace for Pfizer and Moderna

Although trust in pharma spiked during the pandemic, it seems companies' reputations are back to pre-COVID-19 levels—and there’s bad news for the biggest COVID vaccine makers.

That’s according to a new report out by Caliber, which found that in 2022 only four out of 10 people were likely to say something positive about a pharma company.

Drilling down into individual companies, Haleon, which recently spun out from GSK’s consumer unit, ranked as the most respected brand in Caliber’s 2022 survey. It won out after checking patients’ boxes of inclusion, environmental concern and social responsibility.

But on the other end of the spectrum, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca are among the worst-perceived companies in the sector, with all but Novartis vaccine makers for COVID.

While AZ and J&J had not seen a jump in reputation over the past few years, these scores are a major 180 for Pfizer and Moderna, which had both consistently in 2020 and 2021 had some of the highest pharma rep scores ever seen.

But it seems that as we move out of the COVID-19 epidemic, support from the public has shifted away from these companies alongside the rise of misinformation about COVID shots.

Using a global study that spanned consumers of all ages, the report found that pharma companies are now being tasked with connecting strong products with innovation and company leadership that create a positive impact on society. Plus, people are looking for pharma companies to play a relevant role in their lives and treatments.

In addition, the report captures some of the latest concerns with the industry including fair pricing and drug safety.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 32% of the U.S. public had a positive opinion of the pharmaceutical industry, Rob Jekielek, managing director of Harris Poll, said in an interview with Fierce Pharma in late 2021.

That number jumped to 59% of patients rating pharma’s reputation as “excellent” or “good” in the same year. In 2023, it seems the industry is coming down from its peak, and consumers are looking for new ways to affirm their trust.

Some of the concerns coming out of the pharmaceutical companies themselves in 2023 include inflation and the energy crisis. Looking back, the start of 2022 was still focused on the pandemic, but attention has now shifted to global financial and political crises. So, while the Caliber report reflects society’s continued support in pharmaceutical innovation, it simultaneously questions drug brand integrity.

“Building a solid reputation in the pharmaceutical industry requires a dedicated effort. The public demands not only cutting-edge innovation and safe, affordable products, but also a strong sense of purpose that extends beyond generating profits for shareholders,” Soren Holm, senior adviser at Caliber, said in a press release.

“Companies like Haleon, Takeda, and Novo Nordisk are among the best-perceived companies in our index because they connect expertise with driving real change for patients.”

The Caliber report was based on insights from the top-producing pharmaceutical countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.