For instance, 58% of survey respondents said U.S. companies are more likely to create breakthrough therapies, while 68% were optimistic that a treatment would be developed for COVID-19.
“That shows me this hopeful attitude, and almost enthusiasm, about what companies can do to solve this problem. And what a change that is from years of people basically beating up on pharmaceutical companies,” Kalavritinos said.
While the APCO survey was a first-time poll and therefore there's no benchmark to compare it with, the pharma industry’s dismal public perception over the past few years is no secret. The annual Gallup poll of American opinions about 25 different industries last fall found pharma ranking last, its lowest score in the history of the poll. Americans were more than twice as likely (58%) to rate the pharma industry negatively than positively (27%).
The annual Edelman trust barometer poll in 2019 found similar problems with consumer perception. While pharma notched a six-point increase in the U.S. year over year to reach a score of 44, it was still not enough to move the industry out of “untrusted” territory. Edelman begins "neutral" ratings at 50, and "trusted" begins at 60.
While many agree it’s too early in the COVID-19 crisis to know whether pharma’s efforts to find treatments and develop vaccines—as well as its donations of relief funds and supplies—will turn its reputation around, even a glint of change, as the APCO data provides, lends optimism.
Kalavritinos is encouraged by “the steady stream of hopeful, good news in the midst of a crisis for an industry that has been under the gun from both sides of the aisle," he said.