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COVID-19 has made little positive impact on public perceptions of pharma, report suggests

London, UK: A report launched by pharmaceutical company Takeda UK reveals that, despite heightened public and media attention on the industry’s efforts to develop vaccines and treatments, the COVID-19 pandemic has had little positive impact on perceptions of pharmaceutical companies.


The Pharma: Repurposed? report explores the importance of ‘purpose’ to the pharmaceutical industry and provides recommendations on how the sector can convey a stronger purpose to build trust and ultimately improve the lives of patients.


For the report, Takeda UK commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct online interviews among adults ages 16-75 from the United Kingdom. A total of 1104 interviews were conducted in October 2020 and key findings include:


  • Only 17% of respondents said their impression of pharmaceutical companies had improved, based on how the industry had reacted to the coronavirus pandemic over the previous six months. Over half (54%) said their impression had stayed the same and 16% said their impression had got worse.


  • The pandemic has had a positive impact on UK adults’ perceptions of healthcare professionals, with 44% of respondents saying their impression had improved.


  • In contrast, UK adults’ impression of politicians has got markedly worse, with 51% of respondents saying their opinion of government ministers had worsened over the last six months.


  • When respondents were asked to express their opinion on a range of organisations and roles within the sector, just 38% had a total favourable opinion of pharmaceutical companies.
    • Over a third of respondents (36%) had neither a favourable nor unfavourable view of the pharmaceutical sector, suggesting that the industry has more work to do to engage the public with its role and activities.
    • The survey revealed a high total favourable result for healthcare professionals (74%), and for healthcare charities (58%). Scientists within the pharmaceutical industry (53%) were also well regarded.
    • Total unfavourable views of Government ministers stood at 55% and other politicians at 54%.


  • Less than half (48%) of respondents trust the pharmaceutical industry to act in the best interest of society.
    • In contrast, 82% of respondents trust healthcare professionals to act in society’s best interests and over 70% trust healthcare charities to do so.


Jon Neal, MD UK and Ireland at Takeda, said: “The pharmaceutical industry has faced several reputational challenges over the years. However, perhaps now more than ever, the development of new treatments relies on cross-sector collaborations and public trust and willingness to engage with the sector. Therefore, we need to address perceptions of the industry to improve the future of healthcare and ultimately save lives.


“We hope this report will lead to further discussion about how the industry can convey a stronger purpose to build trust with both patients and other healthcare organisations. Employees in pharma companies such as Takeda are completely committed to improving the lives of patients and yet this research shows our commitment to patients and our purpose is not widely understood or accepted. We need to do more and I hope this report will lead to further discussion and opportunities to work with others from across the industry to increase understanding of our role in society and how we operate.”


Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI, commented: “Our research with Takeda suggests that the public have a higher opinion of roles or organisations that articulate a strong purpose around their role in and value to society. The pharmaceutical industry has historically struggled to clearly articulate what it does and what it stands for. If the sector wants to better connect with the public, it needs to start talking much more openly about its activities and values.”


The Pharma: Repurposed? provides tangible recommendations for pharmaceutical companies looking to define and communicate a strong purpose. These include:

  • Building purpose into decision-making criteria – if the industry is to act upon its purpose, purpose must be embedded into all decisions, commercial and non-commercial.
  • Cross-sector learning – in an increasingly collaborative world, there is strong opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to draw upon networks and learn from other sectors who have successfully embedded purpose into their businesses model and acted upon it.
  • Board reporting, internal programmes and education – transparency emerged as a key recommendation from the survey and is vital to building trust. More openness about activity, outcomes and decision making will help foster this.


To read the full report, click here.

About the Pharma: Repurposed? report

The Pharma: Repurposed report was developed and funded by Takeda UK. The report has no promotional intent. Takeda does not intend to encourage the use of, or advocate the promotion of, its products through the objectives of this project or by any of the participants. 

Polling for UK adults survey was carried out online by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Takeda UK. It surveyed a quota sample of 1104 adults in the United Kingdom aged 16-75 using its online I:Omnibus between 9th and 12th October 2020. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for this audience by age within gender, government office region, working status and social grade.

Editor Details

  • Company:
    • Takeda UK
  • Name:
    • Takeda UK
Last Updated: 15-Dec-2020