Gallup poll shows pharma industry’s reputation plunges to record low amid COVID-19 vaccine criticism

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The pharmaceutical industry’s reputation in the United States has reached its lowest point in the 21st century, with a significant decline in public perception, particularly among Republican voters. This shift from initial support for COVID-related efforts to growing disillusionment is highlighted in the latest Gallup industry reputation poll, which conducted surveys across the country throughout August to gauge public sentiment towards leading industries.

According to the survey, a mere 18% of Americans hold a positive view of the pharmaceutical industry, while a record-high 60% now view it negatively. Approximately 21% of respondents expressed a neutral view of the industry. This marks a substantial year-on-year decline, with positive perceptions of the pharmaceutical sector dropping from 25% to the current 18%. Notably, Republicans have witnessed a significant 13-point decrease in their positive rating, plummeting from 26% last year to a mere 13% in the latest survey.

Gallup pollsters attribute this decline to criticism from both Republicans and conservative figures, who have become increasingly vocal in their negative opinions about the pharmaceutical industry in general, as well as COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots specifically.

This represents a remarkable reversal from the early days of the pandemic in 2020 when Republicans’ positive rating surged to 45%. This surge coincided with pharmaceutical companies’ efforts, aligned with then-President Donald Trump, to rapidly develop new vaccines against COVID-19 and facilitate the nation’s emergence from lockdowns.

Gallup data underscores that even prior to the pandemic, Republicans consistently held a more positive view of the pharmaceutical industry, averaging 37% from 2001 to 2019—nearly three times the current level. In contrast, Democrats’ perception has remained relatively stable at 31%.

This decline has placed the pharmaceutical industry at the bottom of the reputation list, with 32% of respondents expressing a “very negative” sentiment towards the industry. This dissatisfaction rating is the highest among the 25 industries assessed, surpassing even the federal government, which ranked second from the bottom by just one percentage point.

In a less surprising outcome, industries involved in providing essential needs to Americans, such as restaurants (ranking first) and farming and agriculture (ranking second), secured the top positions. The computer industry claimed the third spot on the podium this year.

This shift in public perception poses challenges for the pharmaceutical industry and underscores the importance of rebuilding trust and addressing concerns among the American populace.

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