Big Pharma’s image sinks to new low amid opioid crisis, high drug prices

By Beth Mole

The pharmaceutical industry has outdone itself.

It is now the most widely hated industry in the US, unseating the federal government as the lowest of the low, according to a new Gallup poll.

In the August 2019 poll, Americans were more than twice as likely to have a negative view of pharmaceutical companies than to have a positive view of them—that is, 58% held negative views while 27% held positive views, yielding a net-positive score of -31 points in the poll.

The federal government, now the second most poorly regarded sector in the US, had a net-positive score of -27.

The top three highly regarded industries were the restaurant, computer, and grocery industries.

The pharmaceutical industry’s bottom rank marks its lowest rating in the history of the poll, which began in 2001. Few of the 25 industries included in the poll have managed to earn lower numbers. Those that have earned that distinction include the oil and gas industry, the real estate industry, automobile makers, and the federal government.

Gallup noted that the polling came amid widespread backlash from high drug prices, the opioid epidemic, and pharmaceutical companies’ massive lobbying efforts to undermine popular policy initiatives.

In fact, on Tuesday, STAT news reported that top pharmaceutical executives are using their own ample personal wealth to selectively fund a small band of GOP Senators who have sway over legislation that would affect the drug industry. A bill to lower drug costs now under consideration in the Senate is projected to cut revenue from the pharmaceutical industry by $85 billion over the next decade if passed.

Executives from pharmaceutical giants such as Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Amgen have personally given roughly $200,000 in total campaign donations in the past year to select Senators. Those include donations to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

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