Pharma fails to impress mental health patient groups with R&D and pricing practices

Pharma fails to impress mental health patient groups with R&D and pricing practices

The pharmaceutical industry continues to grapple with a less-than-stellar reputation among mental health patient groups, failing to shake off past perceptions. These groups have consistently expressed more negative views about the pharma sector compared to those in other therapeutic domains, primarily citing a lack of engagement in research and development (R&D) as a key concern.

PatientView, in its ongoing effort to gauge how the pharmaceutical industry is perceived, collected data by consulting 82 mental health patient groups as 2022 transitioned into 2023. The resulting report (available in PDF) underscores the persistent dissatisfaction of mental health patient groups with the pharmaceutical industry’s image.

While the pharmaceutical industry did make some progress between 2018 and 2021, with the percentage of groups acknowledging a good or excellent corporate reputation rising from 24% to 40%, the latest survey revealed a stagnation. In the 2022 dataset, this figure slipped to 38%, still significantly lower than the global average across all diseases, which stands at 60%.

PatientView acknowledged the pharma industry’s increased focus on mental health as a priority and noted improvements in its R&D output. However, these positive changes have yet to translate into improved perceptions among mental health patient groups, who remain critical. While patient groups generally recognize pharmaceutical companies as sources of beneficial products, they frequently critique the industry’s pricing strategies. This dynamic also extends to mental health, where 41% believe pharma is at least good at creating products beneficial to patients, compared to the therapy-wide figure of 65%.

Notably, mental health patient groups expressed concerns about the transparency of pharmaceutical pricing and the implementation of fair pricing policies. Only 14% believed that the industry was good or better in both of these areas. However, the most significant criticism was reserved for the industry’s engagement with patients in the R&D process. A mere 12% of respondents rated the industry as good or excellent in this regard.

PatientView also collected quotes from these groups, shedding light on their expectations. A representative from a regional mental health patient group in Canada emphasized the necessity for extensive patient consultation in research, stating that “research is not complete or applicable without extensive consultation from patients regarding their health.” Meanwhile, a respondent from a Chinese depression group highlighted the value of “understanding patients’ needs and feelings.”

In a typical fashion, PatientView ranked pharmaceutical companies based on their reputation, with only six companies recognized by respondents. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, Lundbeck, and Otsuka claimed the top three positions. When narrowing the ranking to respondents who had worked directly with a company, the list shrunk to four companies, with AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly dropping off. Pfizer tied with Otsuka for third place in this reduced ranking, indicating varying perceptions of pharmaceutical companies within the mental health patient community.

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