General Public Read more about how the pandemic affected public opinion towards pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK

Public opinion of pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK has reached a plateau after the post vaccine approval spike in positivity

Following the announcement of the creation of COVID-19 vaccines, positive attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry increased, with a majority saying their views of the sector became more positive since the outbreak of COVID-19. In many respects, the industry’s actions during the course of the pandemic have been a defining factor shaping its public reputation.

However, this increase in positive public sentiment hasn’t progressed further; the average level of agreement between Jan ‘21 and April ‘23 has hovered around 55%. Citizens acknowledge the work done to create a vaccine, but there has been little change in opinion since.

This positivity continues to be driven by the success of the COVID vaccines. However, among those who are neutral or have become more negative, they want to see pharmaceutical companies make medicines and vaccines cheaper and more accessible to all patients. This would indicate underlying reputational issues for the sector that may become more prominent as the benefits of vaccines become less pronounced.

“Their collaborative work and fast response to the pandemic was a great insight into their world.”
“I think that they made every effort to produce a vaccine as quickly as possible and concentrated on a speedy and safe, effective product rather than on making substantial profits.”
“They have a higher profile generally. They stepped up in a time of global need.”

The public overwhelmingly agree the sector supported the NHS during the pandemic and trust companies to work together to find solutions

Seven in ten believe that pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK have supported the NHS during the pandemic and they consistently trust pharmaceutical companies in the UK to work together to find solutions to future waves of the pandemic.

The public’s views on this have been consistent since the previous wave and in the long-term since January ’21, following a significant increase in positive opinion.

Positive perceptions of how the sector tackled COVID-19 have also led to high expectations of the sector’s ability to tackle future pandemics – seven in ten trust that it is willing to do so. Eight in ten also expect pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK to research and develop solutions to treat superbugs and stop antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Last modified: 24 August 2023

Last reviewed: 24 August 2023