Patient groups still think ViiV is tops, with Novo and AbbVie close behind

Alex Wyke--Courtesy of PatientView

Big Pharma's image among patient groups got a boost last year, but biotech is still winning the popularity contest.

In its latest worldwide survey, U.K. consulting firm PatientView found that 39% rated multinational pharma players as "excellent" or "good," up from 35.4% in 2013. Biotech won good marks from 41% of surveyed patient groups, up slightly from the previous survey, while generic drugmakers came in at 40%, on par with last year's numbers.

A quarter of patient groups said the pharma industry's reputation has improved over the past 5 years, a solid 5-percentage-point increase. But that's still lower than in 2011, when 29% saw Big Pharma's rep improving.

"I think we're at a very critical time," Alex Wyke, CEO of PatientView, told FiercePharmaMarketing. "Companies are taking more and more interest in the patient perspective. And there's a lot of truth in the movement behind the rankings. Pharma realizes that it has to change to address what the patient is trying to achieve."

Some big drugmakers are more popular than others, of course. ViiV Healthcare, the HIV-specific joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Pfizer ($PFE), nabbed the number one spot for the second year in a row. ViiV ranked first in all but two categories measured by PatientView: transparency and integrity.

Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and AbbVie ($ABBV) tied for number two on the list, with Novo earning top marks for transparency and AbbVie winning for integrity. Novo moved up from the number 10 spot in 2013, PatientView noted. The Danish drugmaker's previous ratings may have suffered, PatientView said in a statement, because it decided to stop selling drugs in Greece in 2010, after state-run facilities there stopped paying their bills.

Gilead Sciences ($GILD), which ranked second last year, fell off the rankings in 2014. At the same time, drug prices remained the most contentious issue for patient groups, with only 14% rating pharma's pricing as "excellent" or "good." Gilead's pricey hep C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni may have raised a few eyebrows--and knocked a few points off its ranking.

"Pharma trying to explain their pricing policies has not resonated well with patients," Wyke said. "Gilead has always been considered highly by patient groups. It shows that, yes, you're great, you're making wonderful drugs, but people still do not understand why pharma prices the way they do."

Novartis ($NVS) grabbed the number three spot, rising from its number 9 position in 2013. The rest of the top 10 include Lundbeck, Roche ($RHHBY), Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Janssen unit, UCB and Eisai. Eisai appears on the list for the first time, which PatientView attributes in part to the company's new FDA-approved combo drug for chemo nausea, Akynzeo.

- read the release (PDF)

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