The media likes bad guys. Actually, the media is simply filling the insatiable appetite of readers for negative news. And there’s no shortage of it in big pharma.

As Harris Research’s recent reputation quotient study reports, the deterioration of Big Pharma’s reputation comes from several sources, not the least of which is the staggering amount of criminal behavior that has resulted in billions of dollars worth of fines levied against the industry.

At mediaQuant we’re not about vilifying brands, companies or influencers, just reporting and covering the numbers behind coverage of such questionable business practices.

The pharmaceutical brand sector as a whole is up +1 point or 2 percent at 57.  For nearly 2 years the sector has been garnering between 55 and 58 rating points with a single spike in May 2014 during a spate of M&A activity.  In March there was no significant change in sector RSI values as advancing and declining brands essentially cancelled themselves out.

But back to the suspect pharma brands.

Just to name a few, in 2013, Johnson & Johnson (no point change at 77) paid $2.2 billion to settle allegations that it illegally marketed three drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.  GlaxoSmithKline, (no rating change at 74 points) paid $3 billion in 2012 stemming from charges that it allegedly illegal marketed its antidepressant Paxil (no change at 41 points) to children. And in 2011, Merck, up +3 points or 3 percent at 79, swallowed $950 million in fines for improperly promoting its arthritis medication Vioxx.



So how can Big Pharma cure its ailing media driven reputation problems? Media experts offers several tips, including restoring an ethical corporate culture, pricing drugs more for prestige than for profits, and ceasing direct-to-consumer advertising.  Johnson & Johnson has been one of the best at buffering the bad-guy-pharma reputation, primarily through the firms’ strong consumer brands.  The brand has been operating consistently – although with slight loss in media momentum – within a 75 – 80 point media rating band.

Media Trend Coverage around Drug Prices

I’ll just touch on one of the many trends we track that impact the pharma sector, but drug prices, off -1 point at 72 media rating, is consistently a thorn in pharma’s side.  Even though the media rating value for March is down, the trend is clearly up and momentum is still building within the the broader media landscape going into 2015, up +30% in March.

There’s a lot of good news in the pharma sector, but the corporate brands are being hammered in the media.  Much of the positive news around clinical trials and research is hampered by pricing issues, kickbacks and questionable off-label marketing tactics.

Expanded analytic and media ratings numbers for 50+ pharma brands is refreshed every month here.  Also, for more good analytic news, checkout the latest mediaQuant prescription drug brand reports and dashboard ratings.