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Consumers Don’t Trust Pharma,
So What Can We Do?

Posted by | 7:11pm on Friday, December 10, 2010

pharmaceutical companies and brands will have to do the hard work of regaining the trust of consumers one by one 

I’ve written about the lack of trust consumers have in pharmaceutical companies before, so the latest Harris research isn’t a surprise. As someone who works in the industry, it’s disappointing, but not surprising.

In November, the Harris Poll asked 2,151 adults online: “Which of these industries do you think are generally honest and trustworthy – so that you normally believe a statement by a company in that industry?” Only 11% of those surveyed trust the pharmaceutical industry. This number was at a high of 14% in 2004 and a low of 7% in 2006, but it’s stayed relatively consistent.

See how pharma ranked in response to this additional question about trust.

Harris Poll Chart on Trust 2010

Is More Regulation the Answer?
Interestingly, close to half of the survey respondents think the oil (47%) and pharmaceutical/drug (46%) industries should be more regulated by the government. I don’t think that more regulation will help.

I think, individually, pharmaceutical companies and brands will have to do the hard work of regaining the trust of consumers one by one.

Partner with a Trust Agent
The book Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith provides advice on how to build influence, improve reputation and earn trust online. In the online health space, there are already a variety of “trust agents,” so it makes sense that pharma should partner with them. In addition, many of these trust agents are nonprofit organizations that are short on resources. By collaborating with these online leaders, pharma can provide support and leverage the credibility of these trust agents – ultimately creating a mutually-beneficial partnership for both constituents. At Siren, we’ve seen firsthand that this type of collaboration generates trust and benefits patients, pharma and the trust agents.

What do you think about this topic?

(Image courtesy of Shivz Photography on Flickr)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

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