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The pharmaceutical industry’s reputation has slid over the past year, according to recent research from reputation data specialist RepTrak (Boston). This year, the sector had a reputation score of 71.3, placing it below the tobacco and transportation sectors but ahead of the retail and consumer services industries.

“With opinions conflicting on the COVID-19 vaccine, and the government’s role in mandating it, this YoY decrease shows that history-changing vaccines were not enough to distract from Pharma’s original sins,” the 2022 Global RepTrak 100 report explained.

Last year, however, the pharma industry had the most significant year-over-year reputational improvement of any sector, according to RepTrak’s 2021 reputational ranking.

The Harris Poll found a similar trend in February, when it found that 47% of people had a positive view of the pharma sector. A year ago, 62% of people had a positive view of the industry.

To create the annual report, RepTrak surveys participants across the globe, asking them to rank established corporations’ reputations. Only companies with revenues above $2 billion are included.

Three pharma companies cracked the top 100 this year — Roche, Bristol Myers Squibb and MSD (known as Merck & Co. in the U.S.).

The industry overall, however, continued to struggle with the public’s frustration over continued drug price increases, the opioid epidemic and disappointment in COVID-19 vaccines’ ability to curtail the pandemic.

“International vaccine inequality and the addition of the 3rd, and in some cases 4th, shot in the COVID vaccine series rattled public confidence and increased frustration,” the RepTrak report noted.

A separate 2020 report published in JAMA also found that a number of drug companies are frequently fined.

In the 2022 RepTrak report, the Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences sector was the best performer of any industry for the workplace with an average score of 69.7.

The best-ranked company in that category was Bristol-Myers Squibb, with a score of 71.9. The highest-ranked company in that category in 2021 was Sanofi

In addition, the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life sciences sector had a relatively high “social” score and had competitive rankings in terms of environmental and governance goals.

Overall, the pharma sector’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) score was the second-highest of any industry, trailing only the “Household & personal Products” industry.

In the eyes of those survey respondents who were 65 and older, Roche was an ESG leader.

pharma ESG

Roche had the best ESG score for seniors. Image courtesy of RepTrak