Now is the Time to Act for the Pharma Industry.

The current events are proving conclusively what the keen observers have been predicting for years i.e. you can not ignore the public sentiment forever. If the resentment is suppressed and built up long enough, the eventual manifestation of that sentiment will not be pleasant. It’s only a matter of when, not if. Always has, always will be.

The pharmaceutical industry (or as I’d like to refer to it, The Wellness Sector) consistently ranks very poorly on the trust and reputation ladder in the USA. We were only slightly more popular than the federal employees, but now we sit at the dead bottom of the American public’s perception ranking in the latest Gallup poll.

That is correct. The pharma is less popular than lawyers, used-car salesmen and everyone in the government. Do you realize how absurd it is? The collective group of people who dedicate their lives to develop products that save lives and ease pain are the most hated in this country.

Which brings me to my opening paragraph. How long before the flashlight of public ire is turned on the pharma industry? We all know how easy it is in the modern world of hyper connectivity. What’ll happen when there is a mass movement and public protests against the pharma companies? How long before the public demand and the politicians make the industry do that is popular but totally not sustainable and realistic? Do you know how totally non-partisan the anti-pharma sentiment is? If we’re made to do something about it, it won’t be enough for the public and it won’t be reasonable to the industry. The only corrective action is to do something about it before we’re told to do something about it. I’m not talking about lowering drug prices, I’m talking about addressing the bad public perception.

We can go on for hours and days why that is and what to do about it (and I will over next few months), but the bottom line is the pharma industry – you, me, and the senior pharma leadership – must do everything we can to address this issue and improve our reputation. And we must do it Now. If we don’t, we’re implying that we don’t have abilities or resources to do anything and we all know that it’s not true. So far, it hasn’t been the issue with abilities, it has been the issue with willingness. We won’t be able ignore it for too long.

We all know and agree that we need to something tangible (and not just acknowledge and provide lip service), but what I’m suggesting is that the pharmaceutical industry, its workforce and the senior leadership need to act now to actively improve our reputation with a plan and resources committed to it. If we can commit hundreds of people and tens of millions of dollars over fifteen years to develop a drug that may or may not work, we can definitely commit to a fraction of those resources to make us proud of doing what we do. And we must do it. Now.

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