Why do people love to hate pharma?

Pharma took a plunge in its ethical reputation over the past year, according to a new report from the research firm Covalence. What's hurting the industry's image? Lawsuits and settlements and fines, for one thing. The safety questions around the Eli Lilly antipsychotic med Zyprexa and Merck/Schering-Plough cholesterol drug Vytorin--and the companies' handling of the data about those drugs. The dust-up over Paxil and its link to suicidal thinking didn't help, either.

Plus, the media is either tired of covering pharma's good deeds, or it's distracted by election-year politics. Either way, drugmakers' philanthropic efforts aren't getting much play, Covalence found.

Meanwhile, AdWeek took an in-depth look at why pharma seems to be the industry consumers love to hate. And one of the big reasons is the fact that people don't want to be sick enough to need drugs. Sifting through a bevy of recent surveys and studies, the article also concludes that safety scares undermine people's faith in the drugs themselves. And the public doesn't trust pharma to share adverse info on their meds, further undermining that faith--and hurting pharma's rep.

Unlike other industries, pharma can't necessarily mount a warm-and-fuzzy image campaign to turn public opinion around. DTC rules govern how drugmakers advertise their wares. One thing pharma can do, however, is to target its messages more directly to the people who need them, perhaps via the Internet or social networking, the magazine says.

- see the Covalence release
- read the story in AdWeek