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Americans' View of the Pharmaceutical Industry Becomes More Negative

Laura Joszt
The American public's perennially low opinion of the pharmaceutical industry has gotten even lower, and it seems unlikely that public opinion will gain much ground over the next year.
The American public’s perennially low opinion of the pharmaceutical industry has gotten even lower. A new poll from Gallup revealed that just 35% of Americans have a positive view of the pharmaceutical industry, down from 40% in 2014. Meanwhile, the proportion with a negative view rose from 36% to 43%.

The rating for the pharmaceutical industry places it among the lowest-rated industry sectors. Others that received negative ratings include the legal field, the healthcare industry, the oil and gas industry, and, coming in dead last, the federal government.

“Prescription drug prices continue to rise in the US, driven partly by the introduction of specialty drugs that can cost as much as $150,000 annually,” Jim Norman wrote for Gallup. “With few indications that costs will stabilize soon, the issue has moved back onto the national political scene.”

The US has had a negative opinion of the pharmaceutical industry for a long time. Back in 1991, 73% of Americans said the cost of prescription drugs was an important reason for rising healthcare costs. And since Gallup started testing views of sectors in 2001, the pharmaceutical industry has only received overall positive views 3 times: 2001, 2003, and 2014. However, the industry has consistently ranked in the bottom third.

There are differences in opinion based on party affiliation. Over the last 2 years, Republicans have given the pharmaceutical industry a positive rating, while the Democrats rate it negatively. However, the difference shrinks when Gallup includes party leaners. In addition, many groups likely to support Democrats—such as nonwhites, people younger than 35 years, urban residents, and individuals with annual household incomes less than $50,000—have positive views of the pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry will likely remain in the spotlight with Democratic president hopeful Bernie Sanders’ newly unveiled bill taking aim at prescription drug costs. The bill is in reaction to the fact that these drugs costs are so high, many Americans cannot afford them.

“The combination of constantly rising prices and a presidential campaign in which drug companies are under attack leaves little likelihood that the pharmaceutical industry will gain much ground in public opinion over the next year,” Norman concluded.

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