- REUTERS/Karoly Arvai
Drug companies aren’t exactly known for their reputations.
But public opinions about them have changed in some surprising ways in recent years, especially amidst recent controversies over the high and rising prices of drugs.
A new analysis from the research consulting firm Reputation Institute evaluated public perceptions of 14 pharmaceutical companies in 7 key areas: 1) products and services, 2) innovation, 3) workplace, 4) governance, 5) citizenship, 6) leadership, and 7) financial performance.
The report found that on average, drug companies continue to be perceived as having a so-so reputation. In fact, people’s opinion of the pharmaceutical industry overall has improved since 2015.
Yet Kasper Ulf Nielsen, an executive partner at the Reputation Institute, told Business Insider that these average ratings hide some of the more interesting aspects of the results. For one thing, people tend to have polar opposite views of individual companies, either ranking them as having an “excellent” or “poor” reputation. The company with the highest reputation was Bayer. Also, young people aged 18-24 had a significantly lower impression of pharmaceutical companies than did older people.
Check out the Reputation Institute’s drug company scores, ranked from lowest to highest:
14. Pfizer. RepTrak Points: 65.9
Pfizer, which is known for drugs like Lipitor and Viagra, was ranked the second-most familiar of the 14 drug companies analyzed by the Reputation Institute. Pfizer didn’t fare as well as its pharma counterparts in terms of its reputational ranking, though they did score better than in previous years’ rankings.
Survey respondents ranked the company’s workplace environment, citizenship (or responsibility to stakeholders), and governance as being the worst compared to all the other drug companies.
13. Bristol-Myers Squibb. RepTrak Points: 66.0
Bristol-Myers Squibb, the New York-based pharmaceutical company known for its diabetes and heart-related drugs, didn’t have much of a change in perceived reputation in 2016 compared to 2015. BMS reputation scores were particularly low when it came to the company’s leadership and innovation reputation.
12. Novartis. RepTrak Points: 66.7
- Thomson Reuters
Switzerland-based Novartis rounds out the bottom three with a slightly higher reputation than last year. Novartis’ reputation score was brought down by lower governance and citizenship scores.
11. GlaxoSmithKline. RepTrak Points: 66.9
- Thomson Reuters
GlaxoSmithKline, headquartered in the UK, raised its RepTrack score in 2016. One reason for this is that survey respondents said they perceived the company as having better overall performance and innovation.
10. AbbVie. RepTrak Points: 67.0
AbbVie, the North Chicago-based company that spun out of Abbott Laboratories in 2013, was one of the two additions to this year’s Reputation Institute report. It scored its lowest reputational rankings in products and services, leadership, and performance.
TIE 8. Eli Lilly. RepTrak Points: 67.1
People’s perceptions of the reputation of Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based company known for its diabetes medications, didn’t change too much from 2015 to 2016.
TIE 8. AstraZeneca. RepTrak Points: 67.1
- Thomson Reuters
AstraZeneca is a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company known most widely for its acid reflux medication Nexium. Its reputation scores were relatively middle of the road across the reputational subcategories.
7. Allergan. RepTrak Points: 67.5
- Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Allergan, the other newcomer to the Reputation Institute list and the maker of Botox, spent much of its first quarter with plans for a mega-merger with Pfizer. Nevertheless, survey respondents said they did not see the company as very innovative, and these low ranking reduced the company’s overall score.
6. Sanofi. RepTrak Points: 67.8
- Benoit Tessier/Reuters
Sanofi, a French company known in part for its diabetes medicines and vaccine program, rose through the reputation ranks from #10 in 2015 to #6, scoring particularly high in terms of how people perceived its workplace.
5. Merck. RepTrak Points: 68.3
New Jersey-based Merck jumped from #11 to #5 in 2016. The makers of Gardasil, the vaccine designed to protect against the sexually transmitted infection HPV, and the drug accredited with helping former President Jimmy Carter get cancer-free, consistently scored high in all of the reputational subcategories.
4. Roche. RepTrak Points: 68.4
Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche was one of the best-known companies of the bunch. Roche has its hands in a lot of cancer research, most recently seeing the approval of a bladder cancer drug and putting in major investments in technology companies.
3. Novo Nordisk. RepTrak Points: 68.5
- Thomson Reuters
Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, dominated the Reputation Institute’s reputational subcategories of citizenship, governance, and innovation, bumping its reputation ranking from #7 in 2015 to the #3 spot this year.
2. Abbott Laboratories. RepTrak Points: 68.7
- REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Abbott Laboratories, which makes everything from nutrition products to diabetes monitoring systems, came in second in terms of its overall reputation.
1. Bayer. RepTrak Points: 70.6
- REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
Bayer, the German company that has its hands in everything from pharmaceuticals to consumer products like Aspirin and Alka Seltzer to agriculture products, came out on top as the only company on the list with a “strong” reputation (as opposed to average).
Bayer dominated the Reputation Institute’s reputational subcategories of leadership, performance, products/services, and workplace.