Pharma's reputation hits record low in US as Republicans shun industry: Gallup

Americans' perception of the pharmaceutical industry is at its lowest point this century, especially among Republican voters, as the initial support for COVID-related efforts has turned into disillusionment.

That’s according to the latest Gallup industry reputation poll, which surveyed people across the U.S. throughout August on how they viewed the leading industries.

That survey found that just 18% of Americans have a positive view of pharma, while a record-high 60% view it negatively. About 21% of Americans have a neutral view of the industry. 

This represents a notable year-on-year decline, with positive views of the pharmaceutical industry dropping from 25% to the current 18%. Notably, Republicans have seen a 13-point decrease in their positive score, declining from 26% last year to just 13% in the latest survey.

The Gallup pollsters point to both Republicans and conservative figures being “critical of the pharmaceutical industry generally, and of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots specifically,” as a motivating factor for this drop.

It's a significant turnaround from the early days of the pandemic in 2020 when Republicans' positive rating surged to 45%. This increase coincided with pharma's efforts, aligned with then President Donald Trump, to rapidly develop new vaccines against COVID and lift the country out of lockdowns.

Gallup notes that even before COVID, Republicans' positive view of the industry averaged 37% from 2001 to 2019, nearly three times the current level. In contrast, Democrats' view has remained relatively stable at 31%.

This has placed the pharmaceutical industry at the bottom of the reputation list, with 32% of respondents expressing a "very negative" sentiment toward pharma. This dissatisfaction score is the highest among the 25 industries assessed, surpassing even the federal government, which ranked second from the bottom by just one percentage point.

Unsurprisingly, the industries responsible for providing Americans with food, such as restaurants (which ranked first) and farming and agriculture (which ranked second), claimed the top positions. The computer industry secured the third spot on the podium this year.