Big pharma has been suffering from a negative image crisis for a number of years now. Can it recover from the curse of “Pharma Bro” and “Pharma Sis”?
On one hand, the pharmaceutical industry is posting huge profits and is as powerful as it has ever been. On the other hand, the astronomical money floating around the industry and some notably negative press surrounding allegations of price gouging has created a general feeling of distrust from the public and increased scrutiny regarding business ethics.
With drug prices spiraling out of control, allegedly due to unethical marketing techniques, is no way to build a sparkling reputation. Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act’s Open Payment database, the mandated disclosures pharmaceutical companies are required to provide has shined a light on some of what is going on behind the scenes. By requiring a full disclosure of gifts given to hospitals and doctors by pharmaceutical companies, the public can now get a better picture of how they do business.
Pharmaceutical companies rank ninth out of fourteen industries. In the press, mentions of the industry as a whole are only positive 37% of the time. The odds are, if you see something about a drug company online or in the news, it’s negative. Why is that so? The simple answer is that they aren’t about saving millions of lives; they are all about making more money.
– Nearly 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, over half of Americans take two prescription drugs, and 20% of Americans are on at least five prescription drugs – Mayo Clinic
– For every $1 pharmaceutical companies spend on R&D for a new drug, they spend $19 on advertising that drug – BMJ
– 51% of drugs prescribed to Americans are generics, but they only make up 8% of the country’s total amount spent on drugs. The other 49% are the drugs with exclusive marketing rights, which makes up 92% of the total drug spending – IVN
– The percent markup of the prescription drug Xanax is approximately 570,000%. That means that the consumer cost per 100 tablets is roughly $137.79, while the cost of the active ingredients is $0.024 – LiveStrong
– In 2013, the total amount spent on drugs topped $329.2 billion. That’s roughly $1,000 per person – Last Week Tonight
– In the United States, the cost of prescription drugs rises 12% every year – Weedist
– In 2012, of the 12 new-to-market drugs approved by the FDA, 11 of them were priced above $100,000 per-patient per-year –Alternet
– The worldwide pharmaceutical market revenue in 2013 was $980 billion, almost twice as much as it was only 10 years before ($498 billion in 2003) – Statista
– Over 70 million Americans take mind-altering drugs – WND
– 1 in 4 senior citizens skip doses of their prescribed medications in an attempt to reduce the amount of money they have spent on drugs – Business2Community
The numbers don’t lie. We all agree that big pharma deserves to operate at a profit. They absolutely deserve to make money to cover operating and research costs. But when it comes to pharmaceuticals, lifesaving drugs should not be where the profits are made. That should be the line in the sand that isn’t crossed. When making money is more important than saving lives, the industry will continue to suffer a reputation crisis.