U.S. drugmakers Pfizer, J&J top reputation ranks in Germany, Italy

Drugmakers may be justifiably sour on Europe. After all, prescription-drug sales there have taken a downward slide, thanks to budget-cutting governments. But pharma companies might want to keep an open mind. A new survey analysis shows that patients in Germany and Italy are much less cynical about the industry than U.S. patients are.

Almost two-thirds of patient groups in the U.S. figure that pharma's reputation declined last year, PatientView found in a survey of 600 groups worldwide. But only one-third of Italian groups had the same opinion, while 37% of German groups did. U.K. patient organizations topped Germany by only three percentage points, with 40% seeing pharma's rep on a negative trajectory.

The Italians' sunny outlook extended even further. More than half of Italian respondents said pharma has a good--or even excellent--reputation, PatientView found. That's quite a bit more than the 34% worldwide.

The Germans were less impressed; only 30% assessed pharma's rep as good or excellent. While German groups give pharma high marks for making high-quality products, they weren't impressed with the industry's ethics. Only 14% see pharma's marketing practices as ethical, and only 14% say the industry acts with integrity.

Still, U.S. respondents were more critical. Only 4% figure pharma's reputation improved last year, compared with 21% worldwide. Less than half gave pharma good marks for patient safety. And the industry even earned low marks for innovation, with only half of U.S. groups seeing the industry as innovative.

But how did individual companies fare? Ironically enough, it was a German company that ranked highest, reputation-wise, in the U.S., and a U.S. company that came out on top in Germany. Bayer came in first in the U.S., followed by a tie between AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Eli Lilly ($LLY). Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) subsidiary, ranked highest in Germany, with Abbott ($ABT) and Roche ($RHHBY) in second and third. U.S.-based Pfizer ($PFE) topped out in Italy, with Novartis ($NVS) and Roche next.

- read the PatientView report