Pharma sinks to new low⁠—and takes last place⁠—in consumer sentiment poll

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It's thumbs down for the pharma industry, which finished ast among 25 industries in annual Gallup poll measuring consumer sentiment. (iStock)

Consumers think less of the pharma industry than ever before if a new poll is any indication. Pharma unseated the federal government to win the dubious honor of last place in an annual Gallup poll that asks Americans for their views on 25 industries. 

Pharma earned a -31 net positive score, marking the industry’s worst finish since Gallup began the poll in 2001. The second-to-last government score was a -27, while the next-closest industry was healthcare with a -10 net score.

The poll measures American sentiment of U.S. business sectors and asks respondents to rate their view of each industry listed as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or very negative.

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Pharma’s abysmal rating means Americans were more than twice as likely (58%) to rate the pharma industry negatively than positively (27%), Gallup said in its report. The pharma showing was so bad that few industries have ever ranked lower than its current -31. Only the government, oil and gas, real estate and the auto industry have ever fallen lower in the 19 years of the poll.

Gallup points out that pharma’s image crash comes as the industry faces waves of criticism over what have been industry norms “from generating the highest drug costs in the world to spending massive amounts in lobbying politicians to the industry's role in the U.S. opioid crisis.”

Even worse, the poll was taken in early August, before the court ruling against Johnson & Johnson in Oklahoma over its role in the opioid crisis.

RELATED: U.S. trust in pharma ticks upward, but consumers still distrust the industry: survey

Still, Gallup said there may be room for hope. Other industries have recovered, including the aforementioned oil and gas, real estate and automotive sectors. In 2008, for example, real estate’s net rating was -40. This year it made the top 10 group of industries with a +30 net total.  

At the top of Gallup’s scale sits the restaurant industry with a +58 net positive consumer view, followed by the computer (+50), grocery (+43), farming and agriculture (+41) and travel (+41) industries.

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